On Thursday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked whether, given current events, President Obama might now regret having so superciliously dismissed Mitt Romney’s “1980’s-era foreign policy” ideas during the 2012 campaign season. You can imagine how that went, via RCP:
No, because you have a situation where Russia is violating international law because a country that Moscow — a government that Moscow supported was rejected by the vast majority of the Ukrainian people, and because they wanted to determine their own future, because they wanted to be able to make the decision as to their integration with Europe. They didn’t want to be dictated to by an outside state or an outside authority. I think it’s hardly a demonstration of — it’s not a positive thing for Russia that Ukraine has been moving in this direction. Our whole viewpoint is it doesn’t have to be a negative thing. It is a mistake, certainly, in the long-run for Russia not to accept the fact that Ukraine can, the Ukrainian people should be able to decide for themselves in a democratic manner how they will integrate with Europe, and that doing so doesn’t mean they can not maintain their long, historical and cultural ties to Russia.
Just for posterity’s sake, let’s cut to the video tape:
Now, I can almost kinda’-sorta’ imagine where Carney was trying to take that bloviating response — i.e., Russia is currently acting out of geopolitical weakness rather than strength — but I certainly don’t buy that as an excuse for being so flippant with Romney. Soviet strongman with a plan or desperate empire-chasing quibbler, that doesn’t make Putin’s actions, as the Obama administration so commandingly put it, any less of a 19th century-style “act of aggression” in violation of modern, civilized, international norms or whatever. As Romney argued during the 2012 campaign, Russia is indeed our number one geopolitical foe: No matter how lately diminished their influence, they are still constantly opposing us at the United Nations and acting generally supportive of the world’s worst actors. Obama tried to nail him with a terrorist organization that he himself had argued was “on the run” and with an oh-so-enlightened “pivot to Asia” foreign policy that he has miraculously failed to execute. And Obama’s not feeling just the tiniest bit sheepish about that little episode? Really?