Clinton was ridiculed for it during the Democratic primaries, but maybe she had a good point. Okay, okay, so Russia invading a tiny, democratic, potential NATO member is not quite a 3AM moment; it’s more of a stop over on the way to your Hawaiian summer vacation moment. However, it is illuminating to compare and contrast the reactions of Obama and McCain.
Obama – 8/08/08, Sacramento, CA:
I am extremely concerned about what is happening there. I whole-heartedly condemn the violation of Georgia’s sovereignty. I think it is important at this point for all sides to show restraint to stop this armed conflict. Georgia’s territorial integrity needs to be preserved and now is the time for direct talks between the various parties on behalf of stability. So, I think it’s very important for the US to work with the UN Security Council and others in the international community to make sure we are beginning to bring this conflict to a close.
This is a volatile situation. Obviously, we are getting updated on a regular basis, but what is clear is that Russia has invaded Georgia’s sovereign [sic], encroached on Georgia’s sovereignty, and it is important to resolve this issue as quickly as possible.
McCain – 8/08/08, Des Moines, IA:
Today, news reports indicate that Russian military forces crossed an internationally recognized border into the sovereign territory of Georgia. Russia should immediately and unconditionally withdraw all forces from sovereign foreign territory. What is most critical now is to avoid further confrontation between Russian and Georgian forces.
The consequences of Euro-Atlantic stability are grave. The government of Georgia has called for a cease fire and for a resumption of direct talks on south Ossetia with international mediators. The US should immediately convene an emergency session of the UN Security Council to call on Russia to reverse course. The US should immediately work with the EU and the OSCE to put diplomatic pressure on Russia to reverse this perilous course that it has chosen.
Obama’s first response to news of an international conflagration is to catalogue his feelings on the issue. He is “extremely concerned,” and he “whole-heartedly condemns the situation.” Of course Obama is concerned about the situation; it threatens to reveal how dangerously weak in foreign policy Obama really is. Contrast Obama’s touchy-feely platitudes with McCain’s clear and concise enumeration of the facts. McCain’s statement includes specifics on both the military situation, “Russian military forces crossed an internationally recognized border into the sovereign territory of Georgia” and the diplomatic situation “The government of Georgia has called for a cease fire and for a resumption of direct talks on south Ossetia with international mediators.”
The best situational analysis Obama can offer is to blame Georgia for being the victim of Russia’s aggression, “I think it is important at this point for all sides to show restraint,” yet somehow, “Georgia’s territorial integrity needs to be preserved.” At least Obama seems to be aware that there is in fact an armed conflict in progress. Without a sound grasp of the basic facts on the ground, Obama is left to sputter about, “direct talks between the various parties on behalf of stability” without being able to describe who exactly should be talking and what the ultimate goal of these talks actually is. McCain, on the other hand, recognizes that we must speak with the UNSC, the EU, and the OSCE and that a successful outcome of the talks requires that “Russia should immediately and unconditionally withdraw all forces from sovereign foreign territory.”
Obama’s entire statement is maddeningly vague; however, he does offer this bit of reassurance, “obviously, we are getting updated on a regular basis.” You’ve gotta love the use of the royal “we.” Russia and Georgia could be replaced in his remarks with any other antagonistic pair of countries -- China and Taiwan or Iran and Isreal, for example. Obama’s delivery is timid; clearly, he is more concerned with making a statement that will damage his poll numbers and razor thin lead than any number of Russian tanks bearing down on the civilian population of a staunch ally.
The MSM narrative, that Democrats would have you believe, is that Obama is eloquent while McCain is senile, but Obama trips over all 300 of his foreign policy advisors and his own tongue on the way to delivering a rambling and vacuous non-statement. In the coming four years, the US will face numerous geo-political challenges, but the greatest threat to our country is a president who becomes befuddled and frightened when required to form a single coherent opinion on a developing crisis.
Hat tip: Daddy-O
Update -- VDH: Moscow’s Sinister Brilliance
VDH gives a good (albeit depressing) overview of how the Georgia/Russia conflict fits into the larger picture.