Susan Rice wanders far out of reality in her appearance on Hardball last night. Desperate to salvage Barack Obama’s feckless response to the Russian invasion of Georgia, his senior foreign-policy adviser said that John McCain’s strong response may have “complicated” the situation in the Caucasus. With Russian tanks and airplanes slamming into apartment houses in Gori, that would have taken some kind of wordsmithing:
John McCain shot from the hip, [with a] very aggressive, very belligerent statement …He may or may not have complicated the situation.
I understand that Rice wants to spin this for Obama, but even this is flat-out ridiculous. McCain didn’t “shoot from the hip” — unlike Obama, he actually knew the situation and understood its implications. In fact, one need look no further for confirmation of this than Obama’s later statements, in which he agreed with McCain’s original statement on the subject.
Obama’s campaign seems to agree with this. Richard Holbrooke, another of Obama’s 300 foreign policy advisers, told CNN that Obama and McCain agree on the response to Georgia, and that the Bush administration was “behind the curve”. Actually, the Bush admistration heightened its response before the Obama campaign did. Besides, which is it? Did McCain get it right, or did Obama get it wrong later?
Other critics have derided McCain’s supposed “saber rattling” and said calm diplomacy is what was needed. I’d suggest they read McCain’s statements again. Nowhere in them does he hint at retaliatory American military action, but instead suggests strong diplomatic and economic consequences for Russia’s invasion of a sovereign democracy. Guess what? That is diplomacy, and a lot more effective than condemning the victim of the invasion at the same time as the invader himself.
Besides, it seems the definition of obtuseness in accusing McCain of “saber rattling” while Russian tanks rolled all over northern Georgia. Who’s rattling the saber, and in fact using it to kill hundreds of civilians?
Barack Obama apparently doesn’t understand the full range of diplomacy, nor did he have a clue as to the situation in Georgia. He wasn’t prepared to handle this crisis, as his first statements showed. John McCain understands Russia better than most people in Washington, and had diagnosed Russian intentions in the Caucasus and elsewhere years before Russian tanks rolled across the border into Georgia. Blaming McCain for getting it right represents a new low in desperation from Team Obama, especially while at the same time praising Obama for finally catching up to McCain.