KATIE ZERR: U.S. leaders should stand together against Putin


If there were any question of the state in which this country is in politically, the actions of the last five days or so should make it clear.

Even Vladimir Putin’s military aggression in Ukraine cannot unite the right and the left in our nation.

As Russian troops marched into Crimea, virtually taking soldiers on military bases in that region hostage, politicians and the talking heads that captivate the populace began divisive rhetoric about this administration and the country’s president.

Instead of standing strong against the bullying tactics of Putin and his military, the camera-loving politicians jumped forward to criticize and point fingers.

Even seasoned veteran Senator John McCain stepped to criticize President Obama’s “feckless” foreign policy and Sen. Lindsey Graham called Obama “a weak and indecisive president [who] invites aggression.”

The criticism of this administration’s foreign policy has merit, but in a struggle against Putin, our leaders should at least think about the repercussion of what they are asking before wanting to send warships into the Black Sea.

While we watch the crisis unfold, calls for action from all corners of the country are being heard. Calmer heads are urging the administration to be prudent and make careful decisions and stand by those decisions when dealing with both our allies and the Russians.

Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates urged “considerable care” in what is being said because making threats without the power to back them up would cause more problems.

As what was once this country’s number one enemy climbs out of the shadows of being a former superpower, there are those in this country who are calling for this president to stand nose-to-nose with Putin.

Gates, who is a Putin expert and has much more experience in the matter than those who are getting paid to sound like experts on TV, said the United States should not go it alone, but use any other means to help the people of Ukraine, and that region of the world prepare for further action by Russia. Gates said the president is making the right moves not to push back at Putin with talk of military intervention.

He said unless this country is ready to back up the talk with military action, those threats should not be made to Vladimir Putin.

He suggested options using NATO to bolster borders in the region and gathering our allies to show solidarity in the face of Putin’s aggression in Ukraine.

Sounds a bit like common sense, does it not?

Yet as Putin accuses the western governments of staging the massive protests in the Ukrainian capital in order to reduce Russia’s clout there, in our country, the so-called leaders are taking this crisis as an opportunity for more division and political rhetoric.

While western diplomats scramble to find a solution that doesn’t involve another military action in this world, one would hope those who take every opportunity to point out that this president is ruining our nation might stand up and show a united front against Putin, if only for a couple of days.

Gates said Putin is trying to save Russia’s influence in the region and not trying to force Ukraine back into the Russian state. His experience with Putin is worth listening to.

If Putin truly cares about the Russian people in Ukraine, he will also let cooler heads prevail in the region.

He has made his point, and on Wednesday there were some hints diplomatic channels could defuse the tense situation.

This is not a game of chess with Putin, but a real-life situation that could have consequences in our world for generations to come.

For this moment in time, it would be comforting for most people in this country and in other parts of the world to see our leaders stand together against a common foe.

There will be time for the backstabbing and finger pointing later.



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