We The People: Obama seeks a diplomatic solution in Ukraine

Conservatives are on the attack! They attack President Obama for refusing to call Vladimir Putin a thug or to intervene directly in Ukraine.

Newt Gingrich opined that the world is more dangerous because Mr. Obama has ignored conflicts around the world. He is unsatisfied with U.S. foreign policy strategy although Mr. Obama presumably has not shared his plans with him. He criticized Mr. Obama for failing to cancel visits during recent events and called him “delusional” because he announced that he intends to be firm with Russia.

What would satisfy Mr. Gingrich or the Tea Party? A commitment of forces in Gaza or Ukraine? Secretary of State Kerry is pursuing a cease fire in the Middle East, on behalf of President Obama, much like Henry Kissinger did for Richard Nixon. Was Mr. Nixon weak? It is much more difficult to use policy instead of force to obtain stability and peace.

Lindsey Graham excoriated Mr. Obama for not calling Vladimir Putin a thug as if that would have stopped Putin from supplying Ukrainian separatists or checked his territorial aspirations. The Ukrainian crisis is in the spotlight due to the tragic deaths of 298 civilians killed when insurgents, trained and supplied by Russia, shot down Flight MH-17.

There have been criminal acts of violence towards civilian jets before this one. In 1993, Abkhazian insurgents shot down a passenger jet in Georgia, killing 80 people. In 1988, Afghan rebels shot down a passenger jet, killing 29 people. In 1983, a Soviet fighter shot down a Korean Air jet that it “mistook” for a spy plane, killing 269 people including a U.S. congressman.

There have been military mistakes with tragic consequences, as well. In 2001, a Ukrainian Army unit shot down an Air Siberia jet, killing 78 people. In 1988, the USS Vincennes shot down an Iranian Air jet, killing 290 people.

When the Korean Air jet was shot down, President Reagan reluctantly cut short a month long vacation but did not immediately return to Washington, D.C. He did not employ military force against the Soviet Union. He enjoyed a few more days’ vacation before dealing with the crisis.

Mr. Gingrich has criticized the measured response of Mr. Obama and called him “delusional” for promising firmness. This isn’t criticism. It is political propaganda.

The White House has ramped up its criticism of Putin and his separatist insurgents in Ukraine. The anger over the MH-17 incident is growing in Europe and Asia. The suggestion that the U.S. and Europe should increase sanctions against Russia and include a freeze on Russian assets has grabbed Putin’s attention.

The citizens of the world have a right to expect Russia to act responsibly and this military blunder by Russian separatists has given the world justification for action to end Russian aggression in Ukraine.

Mr. Obama has pointed the finger at Russia and called for it to take responsibility for the attack. In response, the insurgents have turned over the MH-17 black boxes which were likely headed to Moscow and forced Putin to consider negotiation.

The intervention of Russia by supplying sophisticated weapons to an undisciplined group of insurgents will justify Europe and the U.S. to supply the legitimate government of Ukraine with support. Mr. Putin is backpedaling: “Russia will do everything possible to shift the conflict from today’s violent stage to … discussion at the negotiation table.”

Mr. Putin can be counted on to ignore that promise if we do not remain committed to forcing him to end his aggression. If Mr. Obama can balance sanctions with the threat of military support, he can negotiate peace in Ukraine without committing hundreds of billions of dollars or American soldiers to another conflict in Asia.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.