Obama is weak, clueless, and indecisive on Ukraine
The president shares a position with Ron Paul, who says that America has no interest in Ukraine's internal dispute and should stay out. Both are flatly wrong, displaying a contemporary version of pre-World War II isolationism.

Reuters

People cheer as they listen to police officers from Lviv who have joined anti-government protesters during a rally in Independence Square in Kiev February 21, 2014.

Article Highlights

  • After essentially ignoring Ukraine for five years, Obama now faces armed hostilities in a large Central European country.

    Tweet This

  • The Europeans have only imitated Obama's posturing, proposing embarrassingly weak economic sanctions.

    Tweet This

  • Paul and Obama are flatly wrong, displaying a contemporary version of pre-World War II isolationism.

    Tweet This

Rarely have the consequences of President Obama's disinterest in American national security been so evident as in Ukraine's ongoing crisis.

After essentially ignoring Ukraine for five years, Obama now faces armed hostilities in a large Central European country, with important U.S. interests at stake and no idea what to do. In fact, it may be too late for us to prevent tragedy.

It didn't have to be this way.

Obama has begged both President Victor Yanukovich's authoritarian government and the opposition protesters to exercise restraint and resolve their differences peacefully. The Europeans have only imitated Obama's posturing, proposing embarrassingly weak economic sanctions.

Candidate Obama indulged in a similar flight of fancy in August 2008, when Russia invaded Georgia, another former Soviet republic. Obama then also urged both sides to exercise restraint — a weak, feckless response doubtless carefully noted in the Kremlin.

Today, Obama shares a position with Ron Paul, who says that America has no interest in Ukraine's internal dispute and should stay out. Obama argues essentially the same thing: "I don't think this is a competition between the United States and Russia," he said Wednesday, adding "our approach … is not to see this as some Cold War chessboard."

By contrast, Russia's foreign ministry takes a hard line, comparing Ukraine's protesters to the 1930's "brown revolution" that brought Nazis to power in Germany.

Paul and Obama are flatly wrong, displaying a contemporary version of pre-World War II isolationism.

The West made a major mistake in 2008 when Europeans rejected Washington's proposal to put both Georgia and Ukraine on a clear path to NATO membership, settling instead for vague, aspirational statements. Four months later, Russian troops entered Georgia, and Russia increased its efforts to subvert Ukraine's struggling young democracy.

Today, we may be on the verge of seeing Russia's strategy pay off, and the West's exposed as hollow.

America should assert unambiguously that it will urgently press for full NATO membership for a democratic Ukraine. This is precious little, but it is the only way to give hope to Ukrainians who want to prevent being pulled back into Moscow's orbit.

John Bolton is a former U.S. ambassador to the UN under President George W. Bush.

 

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

John R.
Bolton
  • John R. Bolton, a diplomat and a lawyer, has spent many years in public service. From August 2005 to December 2006, he served as the U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations. From 2001 to 2005, he was under secretary of state for arms control and international security. At AEI, Ambassador Bolton's area of research is U.S. foreign and national security policy.

    Like John Bolton on Facebook


     


    Follow John Bolton on Twitter.


  • Phone: 202.862.5892
    Email: christine.samuelian@aei.org
  • Assistant Info

    Name: Christine Samuelian
    Phone: 202.862.5892
    Email: christine.samuelian@aei.org

What's new on AEI

image The Census Bureau and Obamacare: Dumb decision? Yes. Conspiracy? No.
image A 'three-state solution' for Middle East peace
image Give the CBO long-range tools
image The coming collapse of India's communists
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 21
    MON
  • 22
    TUE
  • 23
    WED
  • 24
    THU
  • 25
    FRI
Wednesday, April 23, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Graduation day: How dads’ involvement impacts higher education success

Join a diverse group of panelists — including sociologists, education experts, and students — for a discussion of how public policy and culture can help families lay a firmer foundation for their children’s educational success, and of how the effects of paternal involvement vary by socioeconomic background.

Thursday, April 24, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Getting it right: A better strategy to defeat al Qaeda

This event will coincide with the release of a new report by AEI’s Mary Habeck, which analyzes why current national security policy is failing to stop the advancement of al Qaeda and its affiliates and what the US can do to develop a successful strategy to defeat this enemy.

Friday, April 25, 2014 | 9:15 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.
Obamacare’s rocky start and uncertain future

During this event, experts with many different views on the ACA will offer their predictions for the future.   

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled today.
No events scheduled this day.