While most of the Beltway media is lapping up Republican talking points against President Obama and the Russian-Ukraine situation, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates brought some much needed sanity to the discussion when he flatly rebuked Chris Wallace's assertions that Obama emboldened Putin to act and stated the obvious:
GATES: Well, I think that, first of all, we have to look at the reality of the options. There really aren't any direct military options that we have. I think that some of the sanctions that are being discussed and the actions being taken, whether it's limitations on visas or travel, on potentially freezing assets of specific individuals, frankly I don't believe are going to be any deterrent for Putin.
I think -- I think our greatest response is to have our own strategy for countering this long-term strategy of Putin's to gather the states back under Moscow's control. I worry a lot about the Baltics. I applaud the dispatch of additional fire aircraft for the air patrols in the Baltic States, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia. I think that's the right thing to do and we ought to be exploring doing more militarily with Poland. I think the Europeans, with our support, should now press ahead very aggressively with the southern pipeline that would get gas to Europe outside of Russian and Ukrainian territorial space. What we need to do is to show Russia that there are long-term consequences to this aggressive behavior on their part. Our tactical options are pretty limited.
If you listen to the likes of Rep. Peter King, conservatives and most of the Beltway media. Obama must breed fear into the heart of by nuking him with decisive (not necessarily Congressionally approved) intent or he's emboldening him.
WALLACE: You've defended President Obama's handling of the situation this week, but in January you said you thought that President Obama made a big mistake when he set the red line for the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Here's what you warn. "If you cock the pistol you've got to be willing to fire it." By "cocking the pistol" whether it's on the red line in Syria or giving asylum to Edward Snowden or other issues. You're really -- and then not firing it, you really don't think that President Obama has emboldened Putin at all.
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...
Republican hypocrisy over George Bush's response to Putin's incursion into Georgia is quite revealing, no? Gates is well respected in Republican circles and in the Beltway media so maybe they may take a cue from him and stop blathering on about this Putin nonsense.
Oh, wait, what was I thinking?