Sunday’s political talk shows focused heavily on foreign policy, as guests discussed the ongoing crisis in Ukraine which was cast back into the headlines by the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 and the U.S.’s position on escalating tensions between Israelis and Palestinians in Gaza.
Members of Congress, along with top officials from the Obama Administration, suggested that the Russian government likely played a role in the destruction of the Malaysian airliner.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union”, saying that Russia is ultimately to blame if the plane was shot down by pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.
“The nexus between Russia and the separatists has been established very clearly,” Feinstein said.
“So the issue is: Where is Putin? I would say, Putin, you have to man up. You should talk to the world. You should say this was a mistake, which I hope it was,” the lawmaker continued.
Feinstein also said that she believes that the relationship between the U.S. and Russia is now back at Cold War levels.
Republican Representative Michael McCaul (Texas) and Peter King (New York) expressed similar sentiments, saying that the event will drastically alter U.S.-Russia relations.
Appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to use his influence over rebels in Ukraine to aid the investigation into the events surrounding the plane crash.
“This is a moment of truth for Mr. Putin and for Russia,” he said. “Russia needs to step up and prove its bona fides, if there are any left, with respect to its willingness to put actions behind the words.”
During another of five Sunday appearances, Kerry told CNN that Ukrainian separatists have already tampered with the crash site.
“Today we have reports of drunken separatists piling the remains of people into trucks in an unceremonious fashion, actually removing them from the location. They are interfering with the evidence in the location. They have removed, we understand, some airplane parts,” Kerry said.
Kerry joined Fox News Sunday to discuss another pressing U.S. foreign policy concern in Gaza. The Secretary of State was caught on an open mic sarcastically discussing Israel’s tactics in the region with an aid.
Kerry was heard telling the aid that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to send troops to the region was “a hell of a pinpoint,” parroting a term used by Israeli officials explaining that the military response to Hamas is measured and targeted.
Fox’s Chris Wallace asked, based on Kerry’s remarks, if the official was “upset that the Israelis are going too far?”
“I think it’s very, very difficult in these situations,” he said. “You have people who come out of tunnels. You have a right to go in and take out those tunnels. We completely support that, and we support Israel’s right to defend itself against rockets that are, you know, continuing to come in. … So yeah, it’s tough, it’s tough to have this kind of operation, and I reacted, obviously, in a way that anybody does in respect to young children and civilians.”
On “State of the Union”, Netanyahu defended his nation’s actions.
“We have to protect ourselves. So we try to target the rocketeers. We do. And all civilian casualties are unintended by us, but intended by Hamas,” he said. “They want to pile up as many civilian dead as they can, because somebody said they use — it’s gruesome. They use telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause. They want the more dead the better.”
Despite the turmoil unfolding throughout the world, on “Meet the Press” Kerry said that Americans should be proud of the Obama Administration’s foreign policy approach.
“[T]he facts could not be more clear. The United States of America has never been more engaged in helping to lead in more places than we are now. …” he said. “And I think the American people ought to be proud of what this president has done in terms of peaceful, diplomatic engagement, rather than quick-trigger, deploying troops, starting or engaging in a war of choice. I think the president’s on the right track and I think we have the facts to prove it.”
Meanwhile, Senator Lindsey Graham (S.C.), like many of his fellow Republicans, believes that the Secretary of State must be delusional.
“Secretary Kerry… gave the most ridiculous and delusional summary of American foreign policy that I can imagine. It scares me that he believes the world is in such good shape,” the Senator said. “America is the glue that holds the free world together. Leading from behind is not working. The world is adrift. President Obama has become the king of indecision.”