Some things are just way too delicious. Tony Lee, blogger of excellence at Breitbart’s Big Peace, reminds us of a point Sarah Palin made during the 2008 campaign:
After the Russian Army invaded the nation of Georgia, Senator Obama’s reaction was one of indecision and moral equivalence, the kind of response that would only encourage Russia’s Putin to invade Ukraine next.
And, as Lee recounts, Palin was roundly ridiculed in the foreign-affairs media for such “far-fetched” comments.
But, of course, she was as correct then as she would be today, for the following reasons:
1. Indecision and moral equivalence from the liberal West transform the basic conditions of geopolitical relations and encourage the worst from the non-liberal nations, like Russia – always and invariably.
2. By doing this, indecision and moral equivalence change what makes sense to the non-liberal nations. The change in conditions changes how the non-liberal nations see their needs as well as their options.
In 2008, when George W. Bush was president, Putin and Dmitry Medvedev didn’t see either a possibility of, or a need for, securing Ukraine in a Russian military hammerlock. The stability of the status quo looked too difficult to challenge – and that meant Russia didn’t have to worry about major challenges to it from other actors, like Islamists getting hold of whole nations and armies in the south.
In 2014, none of that is still true. The reasons why it isn’t map back, in each case, to Obama’s indecision and moral equivalence.
The world always does a lot of things for its own reasons. But Obama has done what no other American president has, in failing over and over again to react in any useful way, or act at all on an articulated, predictable policy of his own. Even before the U.S. took a prominent place on the world stage, American presidents prosecuted actual, identifiable policies. Obama doesn’t.
Five years into his presidency, it is his fault that Russia sees the status quo as inconvenient, unreliable, and negotiable.
Ukraine herself, meanwhile, was at the center of a key dispute between Russia and the Atlantic West only some three years prior to the 2008 election, and concerns were still fresh in 2008 over the possibility that Russia had been involved in poisoning Ukrainian politician Viktor Yushchenko. Ukraine still sat athwart one of Russia’s most sensitive geographic interfaces with the non-Russian world, a position of historic vulnerability at a time when Russia had just invaded another nation – Georgia – in a similar position.
Palin didn’t just pull this one out of her posterior. She was right – and not through luck, but because she was wiser than her critics about security, peace, and the use of national power.