After Vladimir Putin sent troops into the Ukraine, the neocons and Republican foreign policy wonks went ballistic, claiming that Obama emboldened Putin's invasion since he is such a weak, Kenyan Muslim. However, a niggling problem for the neocons making this erroneous claim is that Putin also invaded Georgia in 2008, when their beloved George W. Bush was in office. Though Bush escaped accusations of being a weak Kenyan, he did nothing to thwart Putin's invasion of Georgia. Many people have brought this up to show that their talking points are--as usual--false. Not one pundit, journalist or politician on either side of the aisle has tried to make the claim that George Bush handled that situation with so much strength that he curbed Putin's plans at all. I mean, Russia is still in Georgia. As in, today.
Enter one Karl Rove, the overblown election "expert" brought to you by Roger Ailes. He was on Fox News Sunday today and actually had the balls to say that Bush stopped Putin cold in his tracks. Chris Wallace also joined in the pro-Bush chorus. I'm not kidding.
WALLACE: Well, and you mention Georgia, rather. Back in 2008, Russia moved and took away two provinces of Georgia. There was criticism of President Bush at that time but, in fact, he did take some steps and may have prevented Putin from taking over all of Georgia. Karl, as someone who wasn't there in 2008, but who was in that White House earlier, when President Obama, and the E.U., are threatening the sanctions, I mean, what do they need to do to stop Putin? And what do you make of the fact that the Ukrainian prime minister came to Washington this week and asked for weapons, and instead he got rations, military rations?
KARL ROVE: Well, I think the 2008 experience is instructive here because Lavrov told then-Secretary of State Condi Rice that their goal was Tbilisi and replacement of the Georgian government of Shalikashvili (sic) was, you know, an assets of public state.
And what the United States did was it sent warships to -- to the Black Sea, it took the combat troops that Georgia had in Afghanistan, and airlifted them back, sending a very strong message to Putin that you're going to be facing combat trained, combat experienced, Georgian forces, and not only that, but the United States government is willing to give logistical support to get them there, and this stopped them at -- with the two enclaves and they did not make a move at Tbilisi. We need similar strong movement now.
George Bush was the bestest and strongest dang leader we ever had, right Karl?
Now for some real perspective. Former Bush and Obama Defense Secretary Robert Gates said there was nothing that could be done to stop Putin's incursion into the Ukraine because he's an opportunist.
GATES: Well, all I would say is - what I was saying earlier in the week was simply that I thought in the middle of a major international crisis, that some of the criticism, domestic criticism of the president ought to be toned down, while he's trying to handle this crisis. My own view is, after all, Putin invaded Georgia when George W. Bush was president. Nobody ever accused George W. Bush of being weak or unwilling to use military force, so I think Putin is very opportunistic in these arenas. I think that even if -- even if we had launched attacks in Syria, even if we weren't cutting our defense budget, I think Putin saw an opportunity here in Crimea, and he has seized it. You know, the ouster of Yanukovych was a big strategic setback for Putin, and -- and I think it's -- it's testimony to how skillful he is or how agile he is that he's tried to offset that by the seizure of Crimea and throwing this whole situation into a very different -- into a very different light...
You can also read Jon Perr's excellent post: Media, GOP Forget Bush's Feeble Response to Russia-Georgia Conflict
Predictably, the memories of the administration's critics are short. After all, President Bush didn't roll back the Russian occupation of South Ossetia and Abkhazia after Vladimir Putin's battering of Georgia in August 2008. Bush didn't lead an alliance of the willing to isolate Russia, undermine its economy, mine the Black Sea, provide defense guarantees and rush American military supplies to Tblisi. Instead, Dubya simply denounced Moscow's reaction using much the same language President Obama is deploying now...read on.