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Romney, Palin wrong in comments on crisis on Crimean peninsula

Nathan James

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“Thanks, Obama!” is apparently a very dangerous phrase to use satirically. But for Republicans throughout the country, it’s a rallying cry with fewer boundaries each day. For proof, look to Romney and our own Andrew Parks, who have recently blamed Russia’s invasion of Crimea on our president.

Thanks Obama, indeed!

In his column earlier this week, Mr. Parks claimed that many of Russia’s land grabs and military expansions can be attributed “to one fact: This administration has failed to deal with Russia, and much of the world for that matter, from a position of strength.”

Really, Mr. Parks? We can attribute Russia’s invasion of Crimea exclusively to the actions of Obama? It has nothing to do, I suppose, with the fact that Russia is a powerful empire half a world away with little regard for international opinion or any moral code. If Obama had only been stronger, Mr. Parks suggests, none of this would have happened.

Neither Mr. Parks nor Mitt Romney, who recently wrote an op-ed closely paralleling Mr. Parks’ in the Wall Street Journal, seem to consider Obama’s economic and political sanctions an adequate expression of strength.

In response, I posit the following: America has tried imperialism. It has tried policing the world. And we have learned, time and time again, that it is not only immoral, but also wildly impractical to rely on one’s military to dictate the policies of other countries.

We can and should use force to defend our nation, but we should not presume to use force to shape other countries in our image. And while we must join a community of nations to stop Russia, it would be both wrong and self-destructive to fight them with violence because of something that happened a world away.

America is and should be strong, but Republicans have the wrong idea of what our strength is. They also don’t understand where it comes from. They think that we are a strong nation because we can beat other countries in a fight, failing to realize that this is not even strictly true in a post-nuclear world.

What makes America strong is our economy and our principles. What makes America strong is that we have the respect of the global community. And in the past, we’ve sacrificed all of these things for ill-begotten ideological wars.

Look at the last one. We thought we could reform the Middle East with boots and bullets, in accordance with the Republican view of “strength.” Our economy is still recovering from that engagement. Our country broke rules we never even thought about. By 2008, Pew Research reported that fewer than a dozen countries had approval ratings of the U.S. higher than 50 percent.

Pew reports that since then, citizens in Israel, South Korea, Japan, France, Spain, Germany, Australia, Russia, Mexico and almost every other country on the planet now have higher opinions of the U.S. Do Republicans think that doesn’t bring us strength?

I say to those who call Obama weak that there is no military that can fix Russia’s problems. The world would be ash first. But a united community of nations, strengthened by mutual resolve to enforce laws of human decency? That could change Russia, and America’s leadership within that community represents our real strength.

I hope to God that the Democrats get their way in 2016.



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Romney, Palin wrong in comments on crisis on Crimean peninsula