Arizona Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has some very strong words about the war between Russia and Ukraine. So strong, in fact, that he was more than willing to use some extremely tough, personal and inflammatory language to condemn the world (and the US’s) response to the crisis in Eastern Europe.
Senator McCain was on CBS’s Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer on Sunday, and his comments on the conflict with Russia will be what is remembered most by all – including a seemingly stunned Schieffer.
“I’m ashamed of my country, I’m ashamed of my president and I’m ashamed of myself that I haven’t done more to help these people. It is really, really heartbreaking,” said McCain.
McCain’s “shame” comes from the lack of international action as Russian despot Vladimir Putin marched across Europe, throwing his weight about like some kind of crazed animal. In fact, Europe hasn’t seen unchecked international aggression like Putin’s since Hitler annexed Austria and then marched his army in Czechoslovakia amidst outcry (but no action) from the rest of the world.
McCain continued to explain his frustration to Schieffer, “I believe that German chancellor and president of France legitimized for the first time in 70 years the dismemberment of a country in Europe. It’s shameful. Vladimir Putin has not paid any price.”
In the last decade the Russian army has trampled the nations of Eastern Europe, either directly invading or threatening to invade multiple nations that had aligned themselves with the West instead of Moscow.
“If I wanted, in two days I could have Russian troops not only in Kiev, but also in Riga, Vilnius, Tallinn, Warsaw and Bucharest,” Mr. Putin allegedly told President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine, reported Süddeustche Zeitung, a German newspaper.
You might not buy this story because it’s from one agitator (Ukraine’s President) against another (Putin) … but the story gains more credence when you realize that Putin recently said something similar to the president of the European Commission when he said, “If I want to, I can take Kiev in two weeks.” Putin made the threats during a series of phone calls between the two leaders about the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine.
As you can expect, the nations of Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Romania are all intensely worried about the plans of the Russian leader. Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine have all felt the wrath of Russia’s foreign policies – Georgia and Ukraine have both been invaded by Russia directly… and Moldova has enjoyed Russian interference in their internal politics for years.
McCain also recognizes that Putin’s chief goal is Russian control of Eastern Europe and the region surrounding Russia. He seems to be cobbling together a new Warsaw Pact alliance by using the threat of Russian aggression against much smaller and weaker nations. His chief concern seems to be the EU and the USA, as McCain points out, “Vladimir Putin wants Ukraine not to be part of Europe, and he is succeeding in doing so. This is really a dark chapter in the history of our alliance.”
I understand McCain’s upset and frustration with the way things have unfolded in Eastern Europe. For we who value and cherish liberty and individual rights, despotism is ALWAYS wrong – even when the leader is a benevolent dictator (which Putin is not). However, we can also understand that Vladimir Putin is not Adolf Hitler and today’s Russia is not WWII Nazi Germany. We cannot be everywhere at once – in attempting to do so, we do a disservice to our own country and spread ourselves too thin against enemies who are looking to hurt us.
Senator McCain has also been agitating for us to send aid to the Middle East to help the Syrian rebels (before they became ISIS) and to help freedom fighters in Iraq and other nations. He’s also a chief proponent of direct response towards Iran. In short, if McCain had his way… we’d literally be everywhere ALL the time. It’s just not feasible, nor is it wise.
I understand Senator McCain’s frustration, because I too believe that Russia’s recent aggression has been unconscionable and Ukraine deserves to determine its own future without Russian interference. However, I feel no shame towards our inaction in Europe. I am not ashamed of my country (though I am ashamed of our President and of the American voters who would elect him… twice). We’ve done nothing wrong – we’ve decried Russia’s illegal actions, we’ve offered our support to our European allies and we’ve sanctioned Russia for what they’ve done.
Our response to Russia should be different than our response to the threat of Islamists. The fact that all of McCain’s suggestions seem to start and end with the military should make his opinion less credible and less respected. Really, it’s time for Putin to get out of Ukraine and McCain to get out of Congress.