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. countmahdrof

    Like it or not, the measure of one's opponent is always one of the factors in geopolitical decisions. And to think that Obama's measure caused Putin to hesitate for a minute is laughable.

    March 8, 2014 at 3:46 pm |
  2. Yanki go home

     

    March 8, 2014 at 3:48 pm |
    • Jahn Lake

      Retaliation by Russia for Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, Okinawa, Vietnam, Nigeria. These Anglo Saxon Republican ba1star1ds should be killed by Russians and Ukranians. When does the nuke bombing of USA and UK start already?

      March 9, 2014 at 5:23 am |
      • sfg

        Sc rew you

        March 9, 2014 at 12:29 pm |
    • Alex

      World on the brink of nuclear war!
      U.S. prepared for a war yadeonoy! Russia has missiles old, but a few nuclear missiles can reach the United States!
      And all for nevminyaemoy Ukraine!
      True look here is the link
      http://www.e-news.in.ua/in-ukraine/3618-terroristicheskie-akcii-mirnyh-demonstrantov-vzglyad-iz-germanii-video.html
      http://www.klagemauer.tv/?a=showportal&keyword=russisch&id=2421

      March 9, 2014 at 8:47 am |
      • philos

        You know nothing about Russian missiles

        March 9, 2014 at 11:51 am |
    • Jerry Okamura

      Are you more or less likely to do what Putin did, if you believed your could get away with doing it?

      March 9, 2014 at 4:03 pm |
    • Ruby

      After Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya.... and now Sudan.....

      US argument of sovereign state sounds a bit hollow!

      March 9, 2014 at 6:22 pm |
  3. Ken Currie

    Fareed: no comparison between Georgia and Ukraine in terms of their importance to the West. In fact, we warned the Georgian leader he was being intemperate and poking the Russians in the eye, especially when Georgian forces invaded South Ossetia and Abkhazia. As far as talking tough; it only works when one backs up the talk with capabilities, and our capabilities, both in terms of hard and soft power, have declined dramatically over the past five years. To say that toughness is meaningless is to throw realism into the toilet. Morgenthau must be spinning in his grave at the naivete demonstrated in this column.

    March 8, 2014 at 4:02 pm |
    • Jahn Lake

      The pro-EU Ukraine protesters are stooges of Anglo Saxon USA and UK. The pro-Russian Ukraine forces did the right thing killing these stooges thereby suppressing Anglo Saxons' attempts to influence and dominate Ukraine and Russia into becoming subservient to USA and UK vested interests.

      March 9, 2014 at 5:35 am |
      • sfg

        Communist liar

        March 9, 2014 at 12:30 pm |
      • CFL68

        Wow. Creepy. You've been watching too much Putin TV.

        March 9, 2014 at 1:56 pm |
  4. Richard

    First off, you offer a far richer perspective than the overly simplistic 'Obama isn't tough enough' narrative embraced by our Republican Party. That being said, any reasonable assessment must include a perspective on the likely outcome based on a variety of factors including the personalities of the leaders involved. For my part, I prefer the well considered response of Obama over the fickle tough guy responses of Bush.

    March 8, 2014 at 5:04 pm |
    • Mark Harmon

      The Ukraine is not in American citizens interests.Obama is supporting the George Soros Nazi and Eu Bankers.The Nazi labor party was funded by USAID money to overthrow the democratically elected government in the Ukraine.The purpose of this was so EU Bankers could grab Ukraines Resources.The International Monetary Fund states a rapid fire Auction for the Ukraines natural resources is on schedule.You people need to see BBC and Guardian UK news for unbiased Reports.These American Media representatives are not honest unbiased journalists interested in facts.

      March 9, 2014 at 1:14 am |
      • jojnjo

        And I suppose the lying Putin Russian Press is your idea of the "Truthful Press"! If it is? you're wrong; for they have a lie in each sentence.

        So Mark, you are the "Weakest Link"...Goodbye!

        March 9, 2014 at 4:43 pm |
      • Social Critic

        Mark is right. The US media has dropped the ball just like they did in the lead up to the Iraq war. There is no funding for investigative journalism. Today, media outlets parrot each other rather than doing their own independent investigations. The UK and Guardian, as alternative news sources, are hardly Putin-controlled news organizations — those media organizations exist under the EU!

        You know the nice thing about the Internet? You don't have to travel any further with your fingers and your mouse to visit news websites outside the US than you do to visit the same well-worn ones here at home. I strongly urge readers to compare and contrast the differences in the news coverage within vs. without the US. In this case, remember, the EU and the United States are allies and want the same thing in terms of resolving Ukraine's crisis. And yet in spite of the fact that the EU/US are largely on the same page when it comes to opposing Putin's actions, you'll be surprised at how incredibly dumbed down American media stories are. It's no surprise, with just a quarter of the relevant facts typically mentioned in any story, that American discourse is polarized. This is what you tend to get when over-simplification is the norm.

        March 11, 2014 at 3:09 pm |
  5. Brhino

    And yet, if our president were standing up tall right now, you wouldn't have an article. Pathetic.

    March 8, 2014 at 5:42 pm |
    • Guest1

      Putin would be doing what's he's doing regardless of who's the president of USA. If you think otherwise you're just being silly.

      March 9, 2014 at 11:14 am |
      • jojnjo

        When Obama won the election against Romney...Putin is said to have been very happy. Why? Because he knew Obama promised the first time no more wars on his watch & that the Americans expect that to continue. So that gave Putin permission to do as he pleases in Syria & now Ukraine...& will I tell you what else...that the war for real will begin in Ukraine next week as the Sochi Para games come to an end & not just Crimea, because Putin is eyeing the whole of east Ukraine as well. So Ukraine will be split in half, not that it will be an easy war for Putin to win, it won't, for the brave Ukrainians will fight to the last man.

        Another thing, Russia is bussing gangs of thugs in to make trouble at pro Ukrainian rallies & also to pick on innocent Ukrainians or threaten then to vote for Crimea's annexation next week, also the Russian army are standing watching on & ignoring what these & Crimean Pro Russian speaking thugs are doing. Also, when the real war does start Putin will ban the Western media from going in & reporting it, he has learned a lot from Assad his sidekick in Syria. If the Western press are let in, they will be controlled as to what they can see & report.

        March 9, 2014 at 5:05 pm |
    • Jim in Idaho

      Europe has a lot bigger stake in the matter than we in the USA...They get most of their natural gas supplies from Russia...
      Any decision that an American President would wish to make, would be tempered by European concerns...

      March 9, 2014 at 1:08 pm |
    • CFL68

      Specifics?

      What tools did Obama or any US President have to deter Putin from Crimea or force him out now? You are ridiculous.

      US barely even has trade with Russia so sanctions won't even do damage.

      March 9, 2014 at 1:57 pm |
    • greybuscat

      No, we'd just be facing the grim spectre of nuclear annihilation. It's like you idiots have already forgotten about MAD and the thousands of nuclear warheads our countries possess.

      March 9, 2014 at 2:43 pm |
  6. Lar 5

    What actions would the candidates attending CPAC suggest?. As of now there is only partisan grumbling but no suggestions. Even McCain is out of ideas.

    March 8, 2014 at 6:08 pm |
    • StanCalif

      The GOP has no ideas about anything other than making the rich richer and the middle class and poor much poorer.
      Where is their health care reform plan? Where is their defense budget plan? (their plan only means spending more on the military to the benefit of military contractors). Where is their infrastructure rebuilding plan? (the rich can fly over all of our failing roads and bridges in their private aircraft) Where is their immigration reform plan? (their only idea is a new Berlin Wall on our boarder with Mexico) Where do they strand on the minimum wage issue? We know. Any business that cannot pay a living wage should not be in business, plain and simple.

      March 9, 2014 at 9:33 am |
    • TKB

      McCain could always do bomb, baby, bomb!

      March 9, 2014 at 12:13 pm |
  7. tom

    If anyone thinks there is anything we can do militarily they are mistaken. Can you even imagine a war with Russia. The results would be life changing. This is why Putin feels free to do as he likes, especially where he has a naval base. No amount of machismo would make a shred of difference.

    March 8, 2014 at 6:28 pm |
    • CFL68

      Agreed. Putin has motive, opportunity, capability, and geography. It doesn't matter who sits in WH.

      EU embargo would settle things quickly though.

      March 9, 2014 at 2:35 pm |
  8. dave

    We should stay out of this for now b/c we have no dog in this fight. We should watch wait and see what happens. Its obvious that Putin has read "The art of war" by Sun Tzu and the Obama regime hasn't. Putin doesnt care what the world thinks aout him and will do anything he wants. the US on the other hand doesnt have the right to tell them what they should do in thier own hemisphere plus we dont have the will or means to use force and beat them if necessary. As far as any type of sanctions or embargo goes all Russia has to do is shut off all the oil to Europe and have them on their knees. Now Obama will reject the Keystone so we inturn couldn't sell oil to Europe. By the way , when did Obama suddenly give a crap about boarders when he ignores our own ? hummmmmmm

    March 8, 2014 at 6:30 pm |
    • русская украинка

      о каком тире речь?

      March 8, 2014 at 11:42 pm |
    • Alvarez

      Your jumping around on topics Dave. First, I'm quite sure Obama has read SunTse's "Art of War", but I believe Putin has not, judging from action rather than the mere appearance of it. Second, do not overplay Russia; US still dominates as the World's greatest military, and has the capability of squashing any country that would consider going to war with her. Third, the last time we sat around and waited to see what happens, we ended up in WWII. If we intervene now, we can at least increase the chances of never having to deal with battles in our homefront. And last, borders? Seriously? One is the sovereignty of a nation, the other is illegal immigration, there is a big difference.

      March 9, 2014 at 11:18 am |
    • CFL68

      Mostly agree. But Russia would be crippled if it lost its largest trading partner EU. Europe gets about 25% of its energy from Russia, but they could get it elsewhere if it wanted to pay a bit more. Those are the calculations being made right now. EU could cripple Russian markets and currency.

      It is an illusion to think Russia would win a trade war. Putin has failed to diversify the Russian economy even though they have enjoyed every possible advantage. Russia's aggression will already set Russia back a decade or more. International business and investment will now see Russia as too risky, and EU will work hard to reduce dependency.

      Putin isn't fooling anyone anymore. Those pebble beaches in Crimea will cost him a lot.

      March 9, 2014 at 2:27 pm |
  9. larry lawrence

    It is hard to compare the US to anything but a vulture. It rose on blood and misery of WWII. By making minimal effort or sacrifices for decades it has put its dirty fingers in so many countries and it has laid brutal claim where it has none. It has secured its parasitic existence by cornering world economies and enslaving them with useless paper known as dollar; as well as assassinating independent political leaders.

    The world needs to understand that this parasite lives from death and destruction to sustain its own economy. Be it by creating chaos or raiding and destroying beautiful countries around the world for resources.

    It wants to have financial monopoly. It never has good intention. Never, ever! Its intention is to print useless dollars and have the world work to sustain its miserable existence.

    March 8, 2014 at 7:20 pm |
    • русская украинка

      умница! прав на все 100%!

      March 8, 2014 at 11:41 pm |
      • Olga

        S proshedshim 8 marta vas!!! Be careful with Russian Language, Banderovci will eat you alive

        March 9, 2014 at 12:06 pm |
      • CFL68

        Exactly – so lets invade Ukraine! Brilliant reasoning.

        March 9, 2014 at 2:10 pm |
    • Frank

      Wow, Larry, how did you get so much hatred between your ears?

      March 8, 2014 at 11:57 pm |
    • cesplin

      The US is the only country that has freed millions and expected nothing, taken no territory or enslaved nations. The US is a beacon to the world of freedom and everyone wants to come hear. Russia does not have and immigration problem. Maybe you need to immigrate to Russia so you can appreciate what you have.

      March 9, 2014 at 6:26 am |
      • mamoura201

        why the Russians will be invade because theres no oil in Ukraine I think this work is USA !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        March 9, 2014 at 11:40 am |
      • русская украинка

        США пытаются поработить весь мир! Никакого мира они не несут! Посмотрите на Египет, Ливию, Ирак и многие другие, куда залезли США! Это мир по вашему? США- гарант вранья, беспорядков и беспредела! В каждой стране после появления США никакого мира! В своей стране разбирайтесь, у вас проблем куча! А Вы очень мало знаете о России, повторяете слова журналистов, которые однобоко рассказывают о событиях в мире. К вашему сведению, России знакомы проблемы иммиграции, она занимает второе место в мире по иммиграции. О США я была гораздо лучшего мнения!

        March 9, 2014 at 12:05 pm |
  10. Sean

    And what would any of you have Obama do to Russia outside of sanctions and tough rhetoric? So quickly we forget that these same Tough Talkers were the ones throwing this tough BS around before we invaded Iraq. 4000 American soldiers dead, a few trillion dollars down the drain, 10 years of war, and what do we have to show for it....more idiotic tough talk from the same old morons. They also ironically are the same people who criticized Obama for going into Libya...go figure. We'd be better off replacing them than replacing Putin.

    March 8, 2014 at 7:40 pm |
    • cesplin

      Doing nothing will encourage more bad behavior. You really cannot see that Putin thinks he can do what he wants? He already has. Neville Chamberlain is not held in high regard for doing nothing against Hitler. You can wring your hands and say what do we expect him to do, but the fact is that a plan implemented to stop a tyrant is better than doing nothing.

      March 9, 2014 at 6:23 am |
      • CFL68

        Regardless of who was in the WH, US has no leverage in Ukraine. Blaming Obama for Putin's invasion is some serious low IQ analysis.

        Partisanship is intoxicating and the right is wasted. They are now an extension of Putin TV trying to weaken and demoralize its opposition. Congrats you bone heads.

        March 9, 2014 at 2:13 pm |
    • jojnjo

      The Russian fellow above says Russia knows all about immigration...you sure do...after all Russia has made a near a whole country of Syrians immigrate because they wanted to sell as many arms to Assad for him to make innocent Syrians homeless. As for Western journalists tell lies about what is happening in Ukraine/Crimea, well Putin & Kiselyov, know more about telling fibs/lies/propaganda as both are experts at it.

      March 9, 2014 at 7:26 pm |
  11. Charlie

    I love people as him, which wants to always bring the past in. WE have to admit, President Obozo has brought shame to the United States and even though countries have not liked us in the past, they at least respected us. With Obozo, no country trust, or respect or wants to be aligned with us, other than taking our money!

    March 8, 2014 at 8:27 pm |
    • CFL68

      Thanks for the vote of confidence Putin 🙂

      March 9, 2014 at 2:13 pm |
  12. aurelius

    As we had several opportunities to discover in the past few years, the GOP and its members are America's No. enemy.

    March 8, 2014 at 8:58 pm |
  13. Chuck

    Im sick of these Foreign people, telling us what to do, go back to Pakistan and bow to allah

    March 8, 2014 at 11:07 pm |
  14. русская украинка

    Люди! Поймите, пожалуйста, сейчас власть Украины зависит не от тех людей, которых показывают как правительство Украины, а от фашистов, националистов, которые и произвели переворот, поддерживаемые США и Европой. Дмитрий Ярош призывает террористов помочь ему, а вчера заявил, что будет баллотироваться в президенты Украины. Россия очень долго молчала, но сейчас не тот момент, чтобы смотреть, как возрождается фашизм, поддерживаемый Европейскими главами государств и США. Фашизм в Европе родился, поэтому вполне ожидаемо, что Германия, Италия, Польша, где он процветал, будут поддерживать фашистов Украины. Одумайтесь, страдает мирное население! За что отдавали свои жизни наши деды, прадеды- за торжество фашизма, поддерживаемое Европой? Именно тем, кто боролся с фашизмом обязаны вы все! Вы повторяете выхваченные фразы за своими политиками, которые набирают очки, но при этом не пробовали быстро пробежаться по истории 20 века, прочитать, что такое фашизм и национализм. А поинтересуйтесь, т.к. львиная доля населения планеты (которая не принадлежит к избранной расе) будет истреблена благодаря вашим же усилиям, если неофашисты останутся на Украине. Конечно, для вас Россия- враг №1. Вся информация на ваших каналах искажается, показываете только то, что хотите показать. А вы поезжайте на Украину и посмотрите, как сейчас приходят в квартиры мирных жителей, забирают документы на квартиры, переоформляют и продают, ветераны Второй Мировой Войны боятся, что последние годы своей жизни придется отдать снова за борьбу против фашизма. Почему не показываете, как поддерживаемые вами радикалы заходят в подъезды и бросают "коктейли Молотова", чтобы выбегали жильцы дома? Почему не показываете листовки этих неофашистов? Поймите, что тех мирных людей, которые выступали на Майдане, уже давно нет среди бунтующих, только ультранационалисты, которые требуют освобождать квартиры от мирного населения, которые требуют открыть военные части для боевиков http://russian.rt.com/article/23816. Это демократия? В 1933 году, когда приходил к власти Гитлер, поддерживая его, никто не думал, что будут такие последствия. Сейчас развязывая руки националистам Украины, вы повторяете те действия. Могу понять Германию, Италию, Польшу- там менталитет людей националистического уклона, но отдавать отчет своим действиям руководство ЕС и США должны, кого вы поддерживаете? Кричите с трибун хоть что, лишь бы против России. Конечно, 5 лет готовили эти акции, столько денег вложили, а пошло все не по плану! Это не Египет, не Ливия, не Ирак и ряд других стран, где вы готовили подобные акции. Это Украина, в которой не все под вашу дудку пляшут! О том, что причастны США к этим акциям говорит и тот факт, что листовки одинаковые http://analitikaru.info/u-nas/ukraina/listovki-v-ukraine-i-egipte-sovpadayut.html. Хватит свой нос совать в чужие проблемы, не залезли бы на Украины США и ЕС, не было бы реакции России. А теперь пищите, что Россия- агрессор, это США- агрессор, это ваше правительство- лгуны, когда пошло все не так, как хотели, сразу есть кого обвинить- Путина. Если бы в США был такой президент, то США были бы на самом деле великим государством. А вот ни у кого такого руководителя государства нет, только у нас. И мы гордимся им! А вы прежде чем кричать о легитимности власти на Украине, выясните, где родился ваш президент, легитимный ли он представитель власти! А наш Путин соблюдает все международные нормы, а вот руководство США и ЕС быстро забыли часть нормативно-правовой базы международного права. Кричат, что Россия нарушает права, а забывает сказать чьи права? Права США на Украине или ЕС на Украине? Войска России в Крым не вводились, они там стоят более 200 лет. Хотелось бы посмотреть, что будет с Польшей, когда ультранационалист станет президентом Украины, про Перемышль они не забыли. О последствиях никто из американских и европейских лидеров не задумывается. И, вообще, прежде, чем рот открывать, почитайте историю, источники права, международного права! Всего доброго! Миру- мир!

    March 8, 2014 at 11:31 pm |
    • CFL68

      You really need to watch something besides Putin TV.

      Here is the simple story: Putin is an ultra nationalist. Like Berlin in 48-49, Hungary in 56, Berlin again in 61, Czechoslovakia in 68, etc., the Soviets will try to crush any sputnik that tries to leave orbit.

      All that happened in Ukraine is that the Russian puppet kleptocrat fled the country after his own party abandoned him for gunning down civilians in Maidan. The elected parliament, including Yanukovych's party, selected temporary government until elections can be held in a couple months.

      Putin realized that Ukraine is leaving orbit, so he invaded to capture low hanging fruit in Crimea.

      He wants to punish and destabilize Ukraine out of spite, and so that no other countries or regions get same idea.

      He will keep 'Krim', but any further aggression should lead to abrupt Russian financial and economic isolation. Embargo would be expensive for EU and rest of world, but it would be crippling for Russia and an appropriate response to armed invasion of a European country.

      Even where we are now, Putins aggression will impose a huge cost on Russians as international business and investors move elsewhere.

      March 9, 2014 at 2:21 pm |
      • русская украинка

        Что Вам известно о национализме? Вы на себе испытывали? Вы были на Украине? со своими советами сидите в своих США, много вас таких, не зная проблемы, выхватывая мелкие сюжеты, умничаете! Поезжайте на Украину в Харьковскую, Луганскую, Донецкую области и пообщайтесь с людьми. Не с националистами, а с простыми людьми на улице. Сидеть у компьютера и умничать может каждый.

        March 10, 2014 at 1:02 am |
      • русская украинка

        и если я здесь с Вами общаюсь, то надо полагать, что я не только российское телевидение смотрю. Вам лишь бы Россию обгадить, не разбираясь в проблеме. Это происходит всегда! Для начала приезжайте и посмотрите, а потом делайте свои заключения неуместные. Вы, вообще, представление имеет об Украине, что там сейчас происходит, легитимна ли власть действующая сейчас?

        March 10, 2014 at 1:08 am |
    • jojnjo

      Sorry... Putin is the Nazi (clone) that is in Crimea playing his version of Hitler 2014, the best thing he could do is stall his Tin Pot Idiocy & bring himself/Lavrov & unmarked army home to base in Russia. Where he & they belong!

      March 9, 2014 at 7:31 pm |
  15. WML

    Really, Fareed? You are about as consistent as the wind in a total vacuum. Really, people should not criticize the president? And yet you gleefully mention the failings of another president, while hoping to brush aside the failings of the current office holder. Like I said, the consistency of the wind in a total vacuum. For you, an impossibility. In your years, you have never opened your eyes to possibilities beyond what your own political leanings allows you to do. A lot of people are like that. It's okay, really. Just don't lecture us like it isn't so.

    March 9, 2014 at 1:07 am |
  16. Joemama

    Fareed is a total goofball and Obama is a sham. Give me a break. Wake up America before it's too late.

    March 9, 2014 at 4:34 am |
  17. cesplin

    All the studies can prove what ever you want.
    Clearly if Churchill was Prime Minister in stead of Chamberlain the beginning of the second world war would have been different.
    Clearly if Reagan was President in stead of Obama the situation in Crimea would be significantly different. (Notice how long it took Iran to release the prisoners after Carter left office.... literally minutes after he was sworn in)
    Weakness always encourages aggression. Strength depends on the opponent but I can tell you after my first fight of the "tough guy" in junior high school people left me alone. I did not need a study to tell me the results.

    March 9, 2014 at 6:18 am |
  18. Brhino

    Poor president Obama, he just doesn't get any R-S-P-C-E-C-T !!! hahahahahahahaha!! Good thing he didn't screw up the word potato; because then CNN would have to talk about it for a good 20 years.

    March 9, 2014 at 7:45 am |
  19. stillnotstupid

    Typical prop-up the Prez propaganda from the most predictable putz on the planet.

    March 9, 2014 at 9:30 am |
    • Jake

      Precisely! Priceless! Obama is Prince O' Thieves!

      March 9, 2014 at 9:41 am |
      • stillnotstupid

        'Preciate the praise, partner.

        March 9, 2014 at 10:00 am |
  20. Jerry

    I don't often agree with Fareed Zakaria, but with this article he hit the nail "right" on the head. However, because he unconditionally supports 0-Bama, he failed to inform his readership who is the number one person that owns the results of the escalating situation:Clueless 0-Bama. Of course, Hilarious, Ketchup Kerry and other Democrats also share the blame. The 0-Bama administration, in six years, has never had a cohesive/clear/strong foreign policy plan.

    What is happening in the Ukraine and other countries is probably Bush's fault, period!!! How can the Américan populace continue trust the un-leadership of this MAN and his moronic administration?!

    Oh well, what does it matter at this time...

    March 9, 2014 at 9:49 am |
  21. palintwit

    Contrary to popular belief, tea party patriots do not get an erection when viewing pictures of Sarah Palin. Rather, they flap their size 34 clown shoes with such speed that they actually become airborne. Physicists have dubbed this phenomenon the "Palin Principal".

    March 9, 2014 at 11:45 am |
  22. Val Sor

    Yes, Russia has never been a friend - it's always been the enemy. The reset was wrong.

    March 9, 2014 at 12:04 pm |
  23. Thomas

    Barak Obama is one of the best, knowledgeable and sensible president, USA ever had. He is the leader of the majority. Let him do his job. The republicans should shut up and wait for their chance to mess up US economy, as Bush did. War mongers, the world has changed a lot. Get some general knowledge and analyze the catastrophy we can create by jumping into unwanted war for Ukrain agitators.

    March 9, 2014 at 1:21 pm |
    • palintwit

      Russia is the world's second largest producer of petroleum. Sarah Palin and her trailer trash teabaggers will be the first to cry if gas hits $6 or $8 bucks a gallon. But then they will blame Obama for that too.

      March 9, 2014 at 1:32 pm |
  24. русская украинка

    http://politica-ua.com/chestnyj-rasskaz-evromajdanovca-o-dengax-ubijstvax-i-pokazuxe-majdana/?47644

    March 9, 2014 at 1:48 pm |
  25. d. lewis

    Which republican would look the best half naked on a horse? Christie, Paul, Palin, Bush, McCain, Perry, Cruz?

    March 9, 2014 at 2:07 pm |
    • palintwit

      There are those who would answer Sarah Palin. Except that she is not a republican. She's a teabillie / grifter.

      March 9, 2014 at 2:19 pm |
  26. johnwerneken

    The really scary thing? Ukraine in part with strong US encouragement gave up IT'S NUCLEAR WAEPONS in return for Putin signing a treaty to respect it's borders and it's sovereignty. Heck of a precedent.

    March 9, 2014 at 2:10 pm |
  27. Tmac

    Thanks, Fareed! Nice analysis. I would add that it's another case where there are no clear cut good guys to back in this crisis. Right wingers seem to have a knee jerk tendency to think that there is always a side wearing white hats, and we must come to their aid. They need to be reminded that at one time we thought Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein wore white hats.

    March 9, 2014 at 2:30 pm |
  28. Gametime68

    Oh face it. Changing the framing and phrasing is not going to make Obama look or act any differently. The media are part of the problem, including CNN and the very biased talking heads you've been paying for decades. The fact remains: Putin does what he wants and Obama always seems surprised by his next move. I recall Obama's sweet whisperings in Putin's ear before he was re-elected; i.e., that he (Obama) had one more election and he (Obama) would be more flexible after re was re-elected. It's almost comical. I guess Obama didn't think that Putin understood the American electoral process so Obama had to school him on it. This is the what's wrong with Obama and his inability to create foreign or domestic policies that work or make sense: He's the only person in the room who doesn't know what's going on! Everything that comes out of his mouth is something that someone else told him and he's hearing it for the first time so he thinks the rest of us are too.

    March 9, 2014 at 2:50 pm |
  29. Straightthinker

    I'm not in any way an expert on the Ukraine or Russia. One thing I do know is what someone told me a long time ago: You get further with a smile on your face and a gun in your hand than just a smile on your face.
    Obama has a nice smile (along with his pen and his phone) but no gun. He is a paper tiger and everyone knows it. No, there isn't much he could have done or can do in the Ukraine. But, Putin knew Obama would give a few speeches, say he would work with the international community, yaddah, yaddah, yaddah…
    Please, no more red lines you can't back up. If you can't or won't do something, don't say you will. It is impossible to respect Obama for anything anymore other than his speeches and his apparent quality as a family man. That's it, period.

    March 9, 2014 at 3:23 pm |
    • palintwit

      Russia is the world's second largest producer of petroleum. Sarah Palin and her trailer trash teabaggers will be the first to cry if gas hits $6 or $8 bucks a gallon. But then they will blame Obama for that too. He's damned if he does and damned if he doesn't. By the way, that was Al Capone who made that remark about the smile and the gun. That's who the baggers would rather see in the White House.

      March 9, 2014 at 4:49 pm |
  30. Dave in IL

    Yep, it's all the US's fault. If only Obama could have made us weaker faster.

    March 9, 2014 at 3:43 pm |
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