Once upon a time, Americans used to support our president in times of crisis.
But that, dear friends, was a long, long time ago. Long gone are the days where the two major political parties bonded together during times of international conflict. Long gone are the days where mainstream news outlets would do thorough reporting and give the viewers an historical context of an important global situation. (Do people realize Venezuela is undergoing a revolution?) Long gone are the days where the nation gathered together in support of our leader and the tough decisions that he was about to make. Long gone are the days when our country waited patiently for our president to make a difficult decision.
Here to stay are the days of hyper-partisanship and unpatriotic behavior as a way to score cheap political points.
As the conflict in Ukraine intensifies this week, political commentary in this country has turned to President Barack Obama and his response (or lack thereof depending on your point of view) to the situation currently unfolding. In fact, you know things are getting serious when Fox News' own Shepard Smith travels to Crimea to report live from the scene. As Russian troops begin to illegally amass in the Ukrainian region of Crimea as a show of force by Russian president Vladimir Putin, the international community must figure out an appropriate response to deal with the situation in hand. This forthcoming solution must require thought, debate, and deliberation. President Obama is currently weighing his options in an effort to choose the proper course of action.
For conservatives, this delay unequivocally shows that Obama is weak and does not know what he is doing.
This argument is nothing new, especially in today's 24/7 cable news cycle where every international conflict is "the biggest test of Barack Obama's presidency". Call me jaded, but the fact that Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, Egypt, Libya and Syria have already been the biggest test of Barack Obama's presidency leads me to believe that the current situation in Ukraine might not end in calamity. And yet, that hasn't stopped the conservative foreign policy "experts" for coming out of the woodwork this past week and expressing the fact that whatever Barack Obama is doing or not doing is utterly the wrong decision.
Take, for example, everyone's favorite half-term governor, Sarah Palin. With a view of Russia from her front porch, Governor Palin clearly has known about the country's geopolitical history for a long time. In fact, she claims that she accurately predicted that Russia would invade the Ukraine if Barack Obama was elected president. With such pervasive powers of prediction, Governor Palin felt compelled to weigh in on Barack Obama's current lack of action in regard to the ongoing situation this week. After Obama was photographed after a 90-minute phone call with Vladimir Putin, Palin remarked that "people are looking at Putin as one who wrestles bears and drills for oil. They look at our president as one who wears mom jeans and equivocates and bloviates."
In addition to mocking his oval office apparel, conservatives have also used Obama's handling of the situation as a way to settle old political scores. Despite being thoroughly trounced by Barack Obama in 2008, Senator John McCain has never been one to take that defeat lying down. As a person naturally drawn to the spotlight, McCain has used the situation in Ukraine as a way to showcase how he and Mitt Romney knew the danger of Vladimir Putin well ahead of time. McCain even brought up the fact that Romney was widely mocked during a 2012 debate for insisting that Russia was one number one geopolitical foe. McCain said, "The president believes the cold war was over. Vladimir Putin doesn't believe the cold war is over."
In addition to sensational psychics Palin and McCain, Republicans have also offered theories as to why Putin would choose to act the way that he has. The explanation that "he needed to make a strategic statement in the wake of Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych being exiled" is oddly absent for their list of possible theories. However, one theory that has been gaining ground in Republican circles is one pioneered by South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham. Graham recently tweeted that Putin felt empowered to move his forced into Ukraine since President Barack Obama refused to use military force to prevent the attack in Benghazi. According to Graham, if Obama had ordered our embassy to spread hellfire into an audience of protestors outside a Libyan consulate, that at least would have prevented Vladimir Putin from invading Ukraine 18 months later.
What's ironic about the Republican arguments against President Obama's current course of action is the fact that they clearly aren't based in reality and only serve to further embarrass the party. For a political party that used to pride itself on foreign policy victories, today's Republican Party has officially become paranoid after a string of victories by the Obama administration. The problem focuses on the fact that diplomacy is now seen as a viable solution to solving major international conflicts. This undermines the entire Republican foreign policy of flexing our military muscle first and asking questions later.
It also hurts the Republican Party where it matters most: its wallet. You see, if there are no boots on the ground or no planes overhead then our friends at Boeing and Haliburton can't make a few million bucks producing products with that profit then trickling down to their shareholders who just happen to be Republican government officials. If American diplomacy not only is implemented, but also works, then maybe, just maybe, people might begin to suggest that this tactic always be used first when an international incident occurs. If that happens, if we actually have dialogue between major world leaders, if we actually have economic pressures and sanctions placed against countries that violate law, if we freeze a nation's assets, then this could lead to a world where American diplomacy, rather than American destroyers, ends up solving international conflicts.
And that, for Republicans, is a very scary world.