Enough with the tough guy debate
March 7th, 2014
12:07 PM ET

Enough with the tough guy debate

For more on the latest developments in Ukraine, watch a special live edition of "Fareed Zakaria GPS," this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN.

By Fareed Zakaria

Inevitably, the crisis in Ukraine is being discussed in Washington largely through the lens of political polarization. It seems like any and every topic is fodder for partisan dispute these days, even the weather – actually, especially the weather.

Many Republicans are arguing that Russian President Vladimir Putin intervened in the Crimea region of Ukraine because of President Barack Obama's weakness. Putin saw that Obama didn't want to go to war in Syria, for example, and this emboldened Putin.

Well, who knows right? It's tough to know what would have happened in an alternative universe. Imagine that we still had Putin around in charge of Russia, but imagine he faced a different president, one who was tough, aggressive, who had no compunctions about invading countries.

Oh wait, we ran that very experiment in 2008! Putin faced George W. Bush, a president who had invaded Afghanistan and Iraq for good measure (and, in the latter case, defying massive international pressure and opposition). And yet, Putin invaded Georgia. And not, as he did this time, in a stealthy way with soldiers who were already there who simply switched their uniforms. He sent in Russian tanks roaring into Georgia and – without any referendums – simply annexed two pieces of that country.

Does this prove that Bush was a wimp after all? No it doesn’t. You see, there has been some very good and careful scholarship – by Daryl Press and Jonathan Mercer among others – that looks at historical cases to figure out whether having a reputation for "toughness" actually deters your opponents from doing bad things – like invading countries.

In general, the answer is, no.

Countries make these decisions based on many factors. But the most important ones seem to be a careful analysis of the power dynamics of the specific case. So in Ukraine, Russia would ask, is this a vital interest of the United States? And what is Washington's capacity to act in this particular situation?

More from CNN: 5 lessons for a new Cold War

In other words, Putin would look at his cards, look at Washington's cards, and the specifics of the situation in Ukraine rather than assuming that because Bush invaded Iraq, he would defend Georgia, or that because Obama didn't invade Syria, he would do nothing about Ukraine.

Politicians in Washington are convinced that Putin was encouraged by Western weakness. But it's actually quite possible that Putin felt he was acting to stop the West's growing strength. After all, just look at the situation from Russian eyes.

In 1991, Moscow gave up its 75-year-old Soviet empire. It also gave up large parts of its 300-year-old Russian empire including Ukraine. Since then, its historic rival, NATO, has expanded closer and closer to Moscow's borders. And then, the West encouraged Ukrainians to take to the streets and depose their president, who had close ties to Moscow.

Now none of this excuses aggression or justifies Putin's thuggish response. But if we are going to find a political solution in Ukraine that will stick, we need to recognize that the issues at stake are not personal – and that they are much larger than Obama's alleged weakness and Putin's paranoia.

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Topics: Barack Obama • Russia • United States

soundoff (428 Responses)
  1. Tom

    Is this real critical thinking in the news? Nice to see. Unfortunately, our politicians, mirrored by the relatively uninformed and thoughtless public will continue to construct boogie man scenerios that encourage the lack of critical thought on the part of many.

    March 7, 2014 at 4:24 pm |
    • kazaj

      One person must not be allowed to invade a country. He takes a life in this invasion. Take his life and save millions.

      March 7, 2014 at 5:57 pm |
      • sly

        Now you want to take Bush's life? Leave that feeble old man alone – we all hate him, but to suggest he should be eliminated for Iraq is perhaps a bit extreme.

        March 7, 2014 at 6:26 pm |
  2. Anna Bensabat

    It's precisely the opposite: the problem in Ukraine is very simple and easy to solve.
    Ukraine is (and has always been) two different nations (at least two). And now the time came when these two different nations cannot anymore live together, inside same boarders. It has happen a lot of times in the History of many others countries of this great planet. Sometimes, divorce it the best solution, is it not?

    March 7, 2014 at 4:26 pm |
    • Zach Jordan

      No its not. A divorce is when two people walk away splitting equally (for the most part) the income of the family, if they have kids the woman takes a higher portion of the money so she can support them. That is a fair divorce. This is more like a divorce where the entire bank account of the family is taken by the father and the mother is asked to finance the children without any income and is thrown out on the street. Ukraine is a financially stuggling country and Crimea is where a bulk of the countries wealth comes from. It also has a small portion of the population. Essentially the bank rupt piece of the Ukraine would be sent off with all its debts and people to the EU while the booming part of the country with its tiny population joins Russia. its not a simple 'divorce'.

      March 7, 2014 at 4:34 pm |
      • Zach Jordan

        hence why Putin has invaded it. he needs the resources and had a strong military presence there to begin with. Russia kept a base in Crimea because it needed a place to harbor its western fleet, not because it was a strongly Russian envying region

        March 7, 2014 at 4:37 pm |
      • Olga

        People cannot understand, or don't want to understand what is going on in Crimea, maybe because they never had a status of gift. People of Crimea asked for help, they did want their referendum without arrests like in east of Ukr., or bloody circus in Kyev...after referendum Putin will leave. You did not hear a lot of Ukraine on U.S. new until now when Ukraine is a star. But people asked to return to Russia long time ago...They are tiered to be discriminated, for instance to learn English or other Foreign Language in Ukr, students did not perform well in science because they could understand Ukr., people did not have their name in passport in Russian but in Ukr. which sounds differently. Ukraine was hiding behind Russian history very long time, now they do the same thing behind USA.

        March 7, 2014 at 5:00 pm |
      • IraH

        Where did you get this? Ukraine has richest soil – chernozem. The cubic meter of this soil was an exhibit at the World's Fair in the beginning of the 20th century. Germans were taking this soil to Germany during WWII. Ukraine is a bread basket of Europe. It could feed a lot of people. Soil in Crimea and climate are, of course, great for grown the best wines. What would you prefer to have, if you were hungry? Ukrainian industry is located in the eastern part of the country. What is in the western Ukraine? Beautiful Karpatian mountains, great for tourism, nice people, famous for their hospitality. There are many other sources, that could be used to be prosperous. It is unfortunate, that ultra-right Ukrainian nationalist movement took over the wonderful country. Ukrainians, Belorussians, and Russians are brotherly nations, many families are mixed. By the way, there people of other ethnic origins in the region. I want to say one more time, if you don't know the history and culture of the country, if you did not live there, mean your own business, please. Your comments sound at least strange.

        March 7, 2014 at 5:10 pm |
      • mary

        The main branches of the Crimean economy are tourism and agriculture.A bulk of country wealth comes form East Ukraine which are Donetsk, Kharkov and so on... I dont understand how the economy of Ukraine can depend on small Crimean?

        March 7, 2014 at 5:18 pm |
      • EdwardTr

        Crimea is very small portion, lad, population and economic output. A good portion of its economy depends on Russian Naval Base and Russian tourism. Where do you get this stuff? Plus it would be a divorce after a very very short marriage.

        March 7, 2014 at 5:27 pm |
      • Anna Bensabat

        The money is coming to Kiev from the Industrial East Ukraine, one more reason for the radicals from West Ukraine not to throw stones at East Ukraine. Crimea has a strategic importance for both countries but it has been part of Russia for hundreds of years and more than 90 % of its population are Russian speaking people. From this you can understand the impact the ban of the use of Russian language (by the self proclaimed government of Kiev) had on the Crimean.

        March 7, 2014 at 6:35 pm |
      • Zach Jordan

        the crimea is one of the most successful agricultural production regions in the world. it has tremendous fuel production. yes tourism isn't an enormous loss in the scheme of things but those things combined are very costly loses for Ukraine's future

        March 7, 2014 at 8:30 pm |
      • LiveFree

        Do you think the "divorce" of Crimea from Ukrain, if successful, will set a precedent for Eastern Ukrain to do the same? Then, Russia does not need to lift a finger, piece-by-piece of Ukrain will land in her pocket. I think this is the scenario that Ukrain government fears the most.

        March 8, 2014 at 12:49 am |
    • Olga

      You nailed it! Well done! Ukraine has to let go Russian population that was glued to Ukraine by political leaders such as Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev. Problem is that if all those lands will go back to Russia, West possibly can go to Poland, and that Ukraine will not exist anymore...Ukraine consists from gifts of lands

      March 7, 2014 at 4:50 pm |
      • Alina Irma

        Anna and Olga, From what I gather your information about Ukraine is based on the years Stalin till current.If the people prefer to have strong ties to Russia, why can't they go back to Russia territory ? I question very strongly, as to WHY the difference of West and East Ukraine, does it go back to Stalin ? Is the East of Ukraine scared of West mentality ? Who is to blame for Ukraine's stolen culture,people and language before Stalin. After what I have witnessed , Kyiv is not hiding from Russia, but somebody is.

        March 7, 2014 at 5:25 pm |
      • Anna Bensabat

        The borders of Ukraine have been volatile throughout the centuries.
        It is sad to see it disintegrating, such a beautiful country, with so much potential and such nice people (except for the radicals of the Western part).This disintegration could have been avoid if the radicals did not ban the use of Russian language. Crimean are peaceful people, absorbed in their work and not very keen to participate in the political life of the country. However the ban of their language (more than 90%of the people in Crimea are Russian speaking) lead to this upraising and now it is too late to stop them to get what they want. Too bad for Western Ukraine and the West, that has cultivated and fed this pathological hatred towards Russia.

        They are not better and they are not worst. They are just different. Two different nations with different world views who want walk 2 different paths of development. Ukraina still have the chance to become a great country, even if it looses Crimea. It's sad that all these Ukrainian leaders have been so mediocre throughout the years. Ukrainians deserve better. I understand why the people were unhappy with Yanukovich, but with leaders like Timochenko and Klichko who only add fuel to the fire and instigate hate crimes in the country...

        March 7, 2014 at 7:28 pm |
    • paul

      Russian troll

      March 7, 2014 at 10:02 pm |
    • LiveFree

      That's right. All it takes is for Russia to honor a treaty to guarantee Ukrain's sovereignty signed with Ukrain in 1991. The rest is Ukrain's internal affair. Leave it to Ukranians to decide their own future through voting. Problem solved.

      March 8, 2014 at 1:00 am |
    • Richard

      In this case, definitely.

      March 8, 2014 at 11:05 pm |
  3. Steven Simonton

    Agree, enough about the tough guy debate, because it is about being a well schooled, educated, and focused leader. Why does President Putin compare negotiating with President Obama to playing chess with a pidgeon? He says the pidgeon sh**s all over the board, flaps his wings knocking down all the pieces, and struts around like he has won. Enough of the machismo.

    March 7, 2014 at 5:10 pm |
    • sam

      Actually, Putin never said that. The quote is attributed to Scott D. Weitzenhoffer. He was also referring to debating with Creationists. It had nothing to do with Obama.

      See what 30 seconds of Google research can do to keep you from being an ignorant right-wing parrot?

      March 7, 2014 at 10:42 pm |
    • jojnjo

      Putin is supposed to have said that off the record, although he didn't make up this quote himself, he may have seen it & borrowed it. This often happens in "Politics"!

      March 9, 2014 at 10:14 pm |
  4. bobcat2u

    Since a portion of Russia's Black Sea fleet is located in the Crimean area, one can understand the urgency of Russias movement into the area. The rest is being, as usual, blown totally out of proportion. The only ones that are banging those war drums are our usual war mongers who for some reason see glory in war. And it is usually those who have never seen war up close and personal an never intend to.

    March 7, 2014 at 5:20 pm |
  5. Larry Hass

    The republicans are all talking about how Obama is Weak this and Weak that. The only thing weak is their loyalty to the United States of America. An enemy makes a move out there and the first thing we hear from the republicans is that our president has a weak foreign policy – go enemy go – attack us we are weak. They brag that our enemy is a better leader of his people than our president. I can't help but feel that republicans are not Americans – they are traitors – they hope we will fall to our enemies so they can say – we would have done better. Liars, traitors, evil men lusting for power.

    March 7, 2014 at 5:22 pm |
    • Sam Jones

      just like you and your comrades did bush , Empowering the insurgents in Iraq , the continue to kill our people an attack us , because you turn against the President .

      March 7, 2014 at 5:34 pm |
      • bobcat2u

        Yeah, I can see how you would admire the work in Iraq and try to place the results elsewhere. That was really one well thought out invasion. And the end results have just been fantastic.

        March 7, 2014 at 5:42 pm |
  6. sly

    Ho ho ho ... America has invaded 10 nations this year alone, and y'all are all twemblin' in your booties because Russia and Ukraine are in their 300th year of disagreeing about Crimea?

    Americans are hilarious with their double-standards!

    Get over it. No story here. I heard the DEA has agents in Mexico. "Oh no ... Putin is going to raise a big stink about that!".

    March 7, 2014 at 5:24 pm |
    • pancor

      So according to your logic Russia should be allowed to invade a sovereign nation and violate international law because the US did the same thing in another part of the world in a completely unrelated context?

      March 7, 2014 at 5:40 pm |
      • sly

        No, just because America does it all the time doesn't justify overthrowing a soverign nation.

        But Russia has merely exercised it's legal right by treaty to move up to 25,000 troops in to ensure the safety of Russian's.

        For now, it's all business as usual. I doubt they will try to use military force to take Crimea, and they sure haven't yet.

        Wait and see. Be diplomatic. No more Bomb Bomb McCain and the other usual solution. And STOP killing people with drones all over the world every day.

        March 7, 2014 at 5:56 pm |
      • Sir William Wallace

        Don't quite understand your logic but your talking points are nice (CNN? FOX? BBC?)

        If London were waving the Magna Carta and threatening to invade Scotland after a referendum and declaration of secession, would Ireland be within its rights to give the beleaguered Scots a helping hand?

        March 8, 2014 at 11:13 pm |
  7. grelfr

    So now that Obama has been proven dead to rights wrong on his foreign policy (again) his supporters only have one defense: Blame someone else for failing the same way. "B.b...but Bush did it!" Ok sure and? How does that make Obama any less wrong? If "B.b..but Clinton" was not sufficient excuse for the screw ups of his replacements, as many democrats pointed out correctly back then, why let Obama off the hook? Obama is the president now, we need him to top screwing now, we need him to better than the last two presidents now.

    Ironically this the same lame moral equivalency excuse Putin's sinister supporters in the West make for his blatant aggression against the Ukraine.

    B.b..but America! B.b..but Iraq! (I could point out at length why the Iraq comparison is asinine and silly, but that is tale for another time)

    But nothing!

    March 7, 2014 at 5:27 pm |
    • bobcat2u

      All I see coming from you is more of the same old self opinionated blah blah blah. If you want to sound like you really know something, you should at the very least, put some references to the failures of President Obamas foreign policies. Again, I am asking not for your opinion or those of your friends, but actual facts.

      March 7, 2014 at 5:37 pm |
      • grelfr

        References for foreign policy failure? Have you been living under a rock for the last week? How about I refer you to reality.

        March 7, 2014 at 5:46 pm |
      • bobcat2u

        Again you are talking in circles. What failure are you talking about and how was it a failure ? Simple questions.

        March 7, 2014 at 5:56 pm |
    • sly

      Best foreign policy President in 20 years.

      -Our President killed America's #1 enemy Bin Laden, and tossed in the fascist Khadafy.
      -Singlehandedly (with no GOP support) took on Syria and FORCED Russia to confiscate all the chemical weapons.
      -Ended the Bush Iraq Oil Genocide after 5000+ came home in boxes
      -NO foreign terrorist attacks on our soil
      -First President in 25 years to NOT start any wars

      Good argument for being one of the greatest President's in foreign policy history!

      Now – back to TeaKKKlan Gomer Pyle reruns.

      March 7, 2014 at 5:39 pm |
      • bobcat2u

        It is refreshing to have a president who tries diplomacy first. After so many years of bomb and kill first and sort them out later, I'll take Obamas style in a heartbeat.

        March 7, 2014 at 5:52 pm |
  8. OldUncleTom

    I recall there being some talk about recruiting Georgia into NATO before 2008, just as there has been discussion of Ukraine becoming a NATO member in recent years, or at least a potential EU member (possibly the same thing in Russian eyes). This kind of "old school" military alliance building is almost certainly counterproductive to greater global cooperation. NATO is older than Putin, something people forget, and it should surprise no one that he views NATO as a threat, because it is to Russia. They may view global politics through a distorted lens over there, but it is the only one they have.

    March 7, 2014 at 5:48 pm |
    • Rick

      Why is it a distorted lens? You're saying that if the new gang in Kiev were to cancel the Sevastopol lease and invite NATO to take the base over, that there isn't a high probability that NATO would jump at the chance?

      If you don't know that canceling that lease was next on Kiev's agenda, then well.....nothing I can add to that.

      other than,,,,,Heck, that would be like Cuba inviting China to occupy Guantanamo.

      March 8, 2014 at 11:39 pm |
  9. grelfr

    "-Singlehandedly (with no GOP support) took on Syria and FORCED Russia to confiscate all the chemical weapons."

    You mean he drew a bunch of red lines and then chickened out at last minute in a game of chicken, then Putin had to come in and help him save face by brokering an unenforceable chemical weapons deal.

    "-Our President killed America's #1 enemy Bin Laden"

    No I'm pretty sure a Seal got em.

    "Ended the Bush Iraq Oil Genocide after 5000+ came home in boxes"

    Yeah things are going to swimmingly after he pulled out those US troops. Jihadis just overran Fallujah again, sectarian violence is on the rise again, and none of this was happening when first Obama took office. Say what you want about Bush, but by the end of his term he had Iraq under control.

    -NO foreign terrorist attacks on our soil

    What do you call Boston?

    "-First President in 25 years to NOT start any wars"

    You just cited Libya in the same post, my god.

    March 7, 2014 at 5:56 pm |
    • sly

      -Syria – no one else tried to stop them. Pres went alone, and from what I've read, there are no chemical attacks and the weapon confiscation is working.

      -Bin Laden. Oh, so the guy giving the orders gets no credit? Phil Jackson has not won ANY NBA championships then, and Lombardi won no Super Bowls. Oh, and FDR had nothing to do with WWII – he didn't kill anyone did he?

      – Iraq. You must be the only person left in America who still wants us there. Not me. Do you wish we were still in Vietnam also?

      -Boston Bombings. Gee, I thought they were American citizens, maybe you've read otherwise.

      -Libya. Not a war. I am not so naive to think American Presidents have the power to stop all Pentagon and other secret espionage around the world. Might be nice though, but I'm happy with no wars for now. We'll tackle your issue next.

      President Obama looks like a genius compared to Bush Jr, and like Einstein compared to "Bomb Em" Bush Sr. (And Clinton also for invading Yugo).

      March 7, 2014 at 6:23 pm |
      • grelfr

        "-Bin Laden. Oh, so the guy giving the orders gets no credit? Phil Jackson has not won ANY NBA championships then, and Lombardi won no Super Bowls. Oh, and FDR had nothing to do with WWII – he didn't kill anyone did he?"

        No, Obama deserves some credit (though if he had passed up the Bin Laden opportunity, and if it became public, say goodbye second term.) But he didn't kill Bin Laden. He ordering another guy to do it. I guess by your logic Hitler was the top scoring ace of WWII.

        "- Iraq. You must be the only person left in America who still wants us there. Not me. Do you wish we were still in Vietnam also?"

        I wasn't aware this was a contest to find the most popular opinions.

        "-Libya. Not a war."

        i'm sure the Libyans on both sides would disagree.

        "-Boston Bombings. Gee, I thought they were American citizens, maybe you've read otherwise."

        EEEENNG wrong, Tamerlane only had permanent resident status.

        "-Syria – no one else tried to stop them. Pres went alone, and from what I've read, there are no chemical attacks and the weapon confiscation is working."

        Working? not according the John Kerry, and the Syrian Civil war continues to devolve into an islamic version of the Thirty Years War.

        March 7, 2014 at 6:55 pm |
  10. MIke C

    So what is your suggestion Zakaria, kneel and bow. It seems Obama has been following your advice and he has been humiliated twice by a single crazy man. Do you need a third, a fourth? Oh wait, a third, fourth and sixth already happened in Afghanistan, Iran, and Egypt.
    You also talk from the two sides of your mouth. In this case, you make a historical excuse for Putin to invade another country and you suggest we should reserve the tough talk. But hey, if Putin represses gays then you call for tough talk against Putin for violating human rights.
    Make up your mind!

    March 7, 2014 at 5:59 pm |
    • MP

      please go and join the army and be on the front line then open your mouth. if you love war soooooo much. Putin is doing what any other Super power in his position would do .including US. oh YES and Israel our best body has don it 60 years ago and we can't stop loving them and protecting them.

      March 7, 2014 at 6:49 pm |
      • Mike C

        Reagan did the tough talk and basically put and end to Communism; tore down the iron curtain, signed a nuclear missile reduction treaty with the Russians and didn't fire a single bullet. Obama kneel and bow and has let the seeds for future wars to be planted grow again.
        We are still waiting for Obama peace divided liberals promised us.

        March 7, 2014 at 7:04 pm |
  11. grelfr

    "What failure are you talking about and how was it a failure?"

    One word: Reset

    or how about this little gem

    "Governor Romney, I'm glad that you recognize that Al Qaida is a threat, because a few months ago when you were asked what's the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia, not Al Qaida; you said Russia, in the 1980s, they're now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War's been over for 20 years."

    Believe me I wish you were right, because to quote Jeff Golbum, man oh man I hate being right all the time.

    March 7, 2014 at 6:02 pm |
    • bobcat2u

      And you feel Russia is being a threat more so than al Qeada ? I guess there is no need to try discussing things with you, cause that made absolutely no sense. And as far as you being right all the time, I don't see much danger in that happening. Ta Ta

      March 7, 2014 at 6:14 pm |
      • grelfr

        "And you feel Russia is being a threat more so than al Qeada?

        ok lets compare the threats shall we?

        Major nation state with a vast industrial capacity and a massive military whose president has fond memories of the good ole soviet days and also dabbles in orthodox christian fascism, the same kind of ideology that tore apart the former Yugoslavia not all that many years ago vs a bunch of Islamic terrorists, half of whom are incompetent amateurs.

        "And as far as you being right all the time, I don't see much danger in that happening. Ta Ta"

        Yeah I'm sorry to break it you but the current man in the white house is not quite up to snuff as a leader. If pointing that out is all that it takes to hurt your feelings, then I suggest you grow some thicker skin, or maybe just try being less of a stereotypical sycophantic democrat.

        March 7, 2014 at 6:25 pm |
      • bobcat2u

        Russia who is a Major nation state with a vast industrial capacity and a massive military whose president has fond memories of the good ole soviet days and also dabbles in orthodox christian fascism, the same kind of ideology that tore apart the former Yugoslavia not all that many years ago has not actively killed any of our citizens. On the other hand, a hodge podge group of terrorists managed to kill 3,000 of our citizens in one sweep. So yeah, I would consider al Qaeda more of a threat since they are so much harder to detect.
        And I agree you should also try to quit being the stereotypical tea party republican who does nothing but repeat talking points.
        Now good evening sir / ma'am I have better things to do.

        March 7, 2014 at 6:52 pm |
    • bobcat2u

      Oh, and regarding your Reset reference. You do realize that was a Hillary Clinton thing and not President Obama right ?

      March 7, 2014 at 6:20 pm |
      • grelfr

        Who was her boss? I seem to remember a certain gentlemen from Chicago stating in public that she works for him. Maybe you can help me out?

        March 7, 2014 at 6:28 pm |
      • banasy©

        Convenient that you forget that when Obama took out OBL, grelfr.

        March 7, 2014 at 6:33 pm |
      • Rick

        Washington thought they tried the reset but never got around to changing the label, so the whole thing went into automatic overload when they decided to back a violent coup d'etat instead of waiting around a year for elections.

        Patience is a virtue. Some have to learn it the hard way.

        March 8, 2014 at 11:20 pm |
    • Sarah Palin

      Well, I told you all it'd happen. Folks thought I was crazy building that road to nowhere but now, when the Russians invade Alaska, we can save an hour getting to the beach.

      March 8, 2014 at 11:28 pm |
  12. Olga

    I was born and raised in Crimea, I have Russian nationality. 10 years ago I gave up my Ukr. citizenship and became American without any regret. Yes, economy almost all of this comes from EAST, sorry if I was not clear. But I am not sure that West has a lot of beautiful people, especially when last year in Lvov was reburying Nazi's solders, making them heroes under national Ukrainian flag. Because I lived in Crimea so long for 25 years I know how it is!!! My family, my friends, grandparents are still there and they will vote for Russia, I am very happy for them

    March 7, 2014 at 6:04 pm |
    • IraH

      Dear Olya,

      I lived in Sevastopol for 42 years, before I became a US citizen. All men in my family were officers in the Navy – not a Ukrainian one. But I think, that we should separate regular people, who are good (I traveled to Karpaty), from any type of ultra-nationalist movement. Russian ultra-nationalists are as scary, as any other. I am with my family and friend, who will take part in the referendum. Let us hope for peace.

      March 7, 2014 at 6:35 pm |
    • MP

      me too.

      March 7, 2014 at 6:43 pm |
    • jojnjo

      And many others won't vote for Russia reunion & Tatar community won't vote because they know the election is a farce because Putin went over their heads without even the courtesy of asking them first (even a letter) if they would agree to it. If he can swan around Syria & Sochi, an auld letter shouldn't be too much trouble! Should it?

      March 9, 2014 at 10:24 pm |
  13. grelfr

    "It is refreshing to have a president who tries diplomacy first."

    Yeah he will try it first, and if that doesn't work then a second time, and then a third time, then a fourth...

    Because doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result is not the definition of insanity.

    March 7, 2014 at 6:17 pm |
    • bobcat2u

      Like I said in my original comment to you, personal opinion does nothing for me. We all have opinions and you know what they boil down to ? Jack diddly squat. You can not discuss opinions because if one is set in their opinion there can be no resolution.

      March 7, 2014 at 6:26 pm |
    • banasy©

      I see you have received your Approved GOP/TP Talkibg Points List™. Good.

      I see you haven't gotten the memo on How To Use The a Reply Feature™.

      March 7, 2014 at 6:30 pm |
      • grelfr

        Ok that made me chuckle a little.

        March 7, 2014 at 6:33 pm |
  14. grelfr

    "You can not discuss opinions because if one is set in their opinion there can be no resolution."

    What happened to Ta Ta, are you staying or are you leaving?

    March 7, 2014 at 6:29 pm |
  15. grelfr

    "Convenient that you forget that when Obama took out OBL, grelfr."

    What does that have to do with the current situation in the Ukraine?

    March 7, 2014 at 6:35 pm |
  16. MP

    The Russians can easily say if Jewish people can take over a land because
    1000s years ago it belong to them, so can I. because I owned it only a few years ago.
    Great article. If US or Israel do anything like this the media would look at it very different
    and the news coverage was completely reverse. Mr. Obama is doing a very good job.

    March 7, 2014 at 6:40 pm |
  17. banasy©

    About as much as you stating "No I'm pretty sure a Seal got em." in answer to "Our President killed America’s #1 enemy Bin Laden”

    March 7, 2014 at 6:44 pm |
  18. Robert

    We live in a tough guy world. Everyone seems to get that but the U.S. Georgia is a sliver of a country with a population the size of Philadelphia. Ukraine is the size of Texas, but with double the population. Not exactly an apples to apples comparison (ie Bush to Obama). Obama may have killed UBL, but he fails anytime he has to deal with real strategy and negotiaton, whether it be with congress or Putin. We need an Eisenhower and are stuck with a community organizer.

    March 7, 2014 at 6:45 pm |
    • banasy©

      Eisenhower warned of the MIC taking over American politics. He was right.

      Nominate someone electable then ; I don't see any Generals running for POTUS, mainly because the US isn't meant to be a nation run by the military. Is that what you want?

      March 7, 2014 at 6:51 pm |
      • bobcat2u

        And hello banasy my friend.

        March 7, 2014 at 7:01 pm |
      • Robert

        i want someone with more experience than a community organizer to deal with Putin. Colin Powell, preferably. We need to raise the bar on White House qualifications.

        March 7, 2014 at 7:02 pm |
      • banasy©

        1) He was a community organizer before serving in both the IL State Senate and the US senate.
        2) He has been elected twice, beating two candidates who apparently lacked the qualifications themselves.
        3) He will be POTUS until January 2017. It's a hard pill for you to swallow, but those are the facts.
        4) Your wish for someone else to deal with Putin will not be fulfilled. I hope you feel better at voicing your complaints, as is your complete right.

        BC: hello, my dear friend.

        March 7, 2014 at 7:11 pm |
    • Robert

      we have a community organizer who is good with a teleprompter vs a KGB Colonel who navigated thru the cold war, collapse of ussr, and post collapse. That's like Alabama / Auburn (whichever you prefer) playing a D2 school. Why are we surprised at the outcome??

      March 7, 2014 at 7:53 pm |
      • odntb

        I think most of the ranting that Obama's opponents engage in is the silliest pantload of verbal hershey squirts...but this is actually a fair point.

        March 8, 2014 at 12:23 am |
      • Social Critic

        Does "good" (leadership) mean preventing WWIII by calming the situation down OR does it mean ramping up the rhetoric, sanctions and threats to mark a stronger American response — even if it means broadening the conflict? What are people aiming for when they say Obama is weak on foreign policy? And why does "weak" get so much play? What about "brash", "brutish" or just plain trigger happy? I'd like to see a middle ground. And if we're going to err on one side or the other, I hope the cooler heads prevail over the hotheads.

        March 11, 2014 at 2:47 pm |
  19. grelfr

    "Russia who is a Major nation state with a vast industrial capacity and a massive military whose president has fond memories of the good ole soviet days and also dabbles in orthodox christian fascism, the same kind of ideology that tore apart the former Yugoslavia not all that many years ago has not actively killed any of our citizens."

    So your argument is that because they have not killed any Americans yet, then they cannot possibly be a threat now or in the future?

    "Now good evening sir / ma'am I have better things to do."

    If your going to leave, stop saying your going to leave and leave.

    March 7, 2014 at 7:00 pm |
    • bobcat2u

      You really biatch aren't you ? Just got to have the last word.

      March 7, 2014 at 7:05 pm |
      • grelfr

        No actually I'm waiting for you answer my last question.

        March 7, 2014 at 7:07 pm |
    • banasy©

      We should start a war with a sovereign country that has not attacked us on the premise that they may in the near or distant future? Who are we, Ghengis Khan?

      March 7, 2014 at 7:16 pm |
  20. Miami 305

    All of you talking none sense evil people don't care if you talk to them trying to calm thing up ,they just want to be in power like you see right now Putin .only one thing can deter evil by punish them respond military show them you don't give a crap they want war lets do it the stronger survive ..you will see Putin back down from ukr.. I want all Washington politician zip it do some thing to support the ukr people .putin will never trying to fight with us ..

    March 7, 2014 at 7:14 pm |
  21. Miami 305

    Oh yeah about we send all criminal who in jail right now to fight Russia ..we have more in jail then those who in the street.

    March 7, 2014 at 7:19 pm |
  22. Joe Balderrama

    Who the He^^ is Obama to talk tough over Ukraine where he has absolutely no business? I see a lot of idiots here talking up for this bozo Obama against Putin over this. There seems to be a lot of grade school dropouts here who have no notion whatsoever about either the Ukrainians or the Crimeans! This kind of ignorance should be outlawed!

    March 7, 2014 at 7:30 pm |
  23. Namnobama homer

    You spew NONSENSe fareed. Quit while u can.

    CNN: please fire this pathetic guy who clsims to be a journslist.! Period.

    March 7, 2014 at 8:14 pm |
    • Rick

      America, please fire CNN for pretending to be a serious news channel.

      March 8, 2014 at 11:22 pm |
  24. tupperhouse

    I get tired of hearing Reagan defeated communism. The Soviet Union went bankrupt by overextending itself militarily. It looks like America is next. Too many bases all over the world million dollar drones being used everywhere. America is in debt and actually owes Russia 136 billion for treasury bills.

    March 7, 2014 at 9:32 pm |
  25. OnTheRoad

    Ever notice how Fareed Zakaria has the answer for every problem the world has???? If you don't believe me, just ask him!!!

    March 7, 2014 at 9:59 pm |
  26. michael

    You're an idiot, right? To suggest that Putin invaded the Ukraine to stave off Obama's world dominance is idiotic (a( best). Another incidence of journalistic malpractice by a clueless lefty journalist hack.

    March 7, 2014 at 10:07 pm |
  27. Marco

    The Russian-speaking East Ukraine is where the industry is and Crimea is where the resorts are. Basically the Russian-speakers subsidize the Fascists in the East. But the "acting Prime Minister" selected by the Americans is no Fascist. He is a Jew, reputed to be far, far richer than the President (democratically-elected) but removed by a violent, mostly Fascist coup) or the "Gas Princess."

    As you might have guessed he's been a long-time in Ukrainian politics! And he;s appointed oligarchs as the governprs in the Russian-speaking Eastern regions. One can see who has profited from the Revolution. Also one can guess what's likely to happen.

    March 7, 2014 at 10:56 pm |
  28. Charles

    Fareed: Concerning the criticism of President Obama, you should know by now the facts are irrelevant in the "bubble" within which Fox News, Rush, and the dozens of mini-Rushes around the country reside. Nothing Obama did or could do would satisfy them. I, for one, prefer diplomacy to war.

    March 8, 2014 at 12:11 am |
  29. gaybarr

    Fareed: Sad to hear you spend so much time and energy defending President Obama from criticism. The ugly fact is the United States lacks the requisite diplomatic and military power to stop President Putin.

    March 8, 2014 at 1:10 am |
  30. Name*david

    We have no dog in this hunt. We need to stay out of it for now but observe and see where this goes. Russia and Putin can do whatever the hell they want because who's going to stop them? The Obama regime can't and won't do anything and shouldn't because if they do then all of Europe will have their oil shut off by Russia.

    March 8, 2014 at 2:56 am |
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