Mr. Obama is not responsible for [the "misbehavior" of Russian President Vladimir Putin, among others]... The model for Mr. Putin’s occupation of Crimea was his incursion into Georgia in 2008, when George W. Bush was president....Bush did it too.
The urge to pull back — to concentrate on what Mr. Obama calls “nation-building at home” — is nothing new....Nothing especially bad about Obama here.
The White House often responds by accusing critics of being warmongers who want American “boots on the ground” all over the world and have yet to learn the lessons of Iraq. So let’s stipulate: We don’t want U.S. troops in Syria, and we don’t want U.S. troops in Crimea. A great power can become overextended, and if its economy falters, so will its ability to lead. None of this is simple.We pretty much agree with everything Obama has been doing. We're all responsible, all in cahoots.
But it’s also true that....That what?! That we're screwed? We can't get what we want?
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.We wish and wish. We cling to these wishes, and Putin knows it of course. The WaPo editors offer nothing really — other than an acknowledgment that wishing is the stuff of fantasy.
There's really no substance in this editorial. There's also some literary swill:
1. Metaphor about tides — the "tides of war" and the "tide of democracy" — which lure us into indulging in the fantasy that war and democracy are forces of nature that have their ways that transcend the actions of individual human beings (like Putin). Obama would love to expatiate about the tides rising or receding, but that's the passive observer's view of history.
2. Some flourish around what "century" we are in. John Kerry, doing one of the Sunday shows, said Russia's action toward Ukraine is "a 19th century act in the 21st century," and the WaPo editors, having observed the things that are happening in this century, end on the hapless, helpless note: "Sadly, that’s the nature of the century we’re living in."