The editorial boards of the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal on Sunday criticized President Barack Obama’s foreign policy approach as Russian forces cemented their control of Ukraine’s Crimea region.
The Post began its editorial by writing that Obama’s foreign policy since assuming the presidency has been “based more on how he thinks the world should operate than on reality.” While noting that Obama is not responsible for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s occupation of Crimea, the Post faulted the President for his “urge to pull back” on the heels of the Iraq War.
Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday that Putin’s actions were “19th century behavior in the twenty-first century,” but the Post argued the United States can’t continue to pretend that leaders like Putin, Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and China’s Xi Jinping care for the rules of the modern world order.
“Military strength, trustworthiness as an ally, staying power in difficult corners of the world such as Afghanistan — these still matter, much as we might wish they did not,” the editorial board wrote.
The WSJ’s editorial suggested Obama could do more to rebuff Russia’s advance than to simply condemn the deployment of troops to the Crimean peninsula:
A White House statement on the call said the U.S. “condemns” the Crimean takeover and called it a “breach of international law.” That will have the Kremlin quaking. The only concrete U.S. action was to suspend participation in preparations for June’s G-8 summit in Sochi. Seriously? Mr. Obama and every Western leader ought to immediately pull the plug on that junket and oust Russia from the club of democracies.
The newspaper also slammed the “media counsel of defeat” for pushing the narrative that the West has few options for dealing with Moscow, even though the solutions it offered in its editorial — reconsidering trade and banking relationships, visa bans, asset freezes — were similar to those options Secretary of State John Kerry outlined on the Sunday show circuit.
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at email@example.com.