LAMBRO: Savvy foresight and insight
c The U.S. secretary of state should begin high-level talks in Europe for a common Euro-Atlantic posture, plus an emergency meeting with the G-7 foreign ministers.
c There should be immediate consultations with Ukraine and other countries in the region to take steps to “secure their continued independence.”
Mr. Obama, vacationing in Hawaii, was slow on the uptake, issuing a very perfunctory statement that sent a signal of impotency in the face of a high-stakes foreign policy crisis in which two countries were at war with one another in Europe.
“I strongly condemn the outbreak of violence in Georgia and urge an immediate end to armed conflict,” he said in a statement. He urged Georgia and Russia “to show restraint” and “avoid an escalation to full-scale war.”
But Russia had already taken considerable territory. Events had moved beyond Mr. Obama’s initial statement during the weekend.
Defense and political analysts expressed disappointment with Mr. Obama’s slowness to grasp the full range of the crisis, but praised Mr. McCain, who had made numerous trips to Georgia, for his understanding of the crisis.
“The Obama campaign has had zero policy prescriptions for dealing with the most serious global crisis since the Iraq war,” Ariel Cohen, Heritage Foundation senior research fellow in Russian and Eurasian Studies, told me. “It made [Obama] look like a deer caught in the headlights. The McCain campaign was way ahead of him by advocating a serious and multi-layered global diplomatic response.”
“McCain certainly impresses me with the way he has handled it,” said Michael O’Hanlon, a senior defense and foreign policy analyst at the Brookings Institution who supported Hillary Clinton. “It vindicates the somewhat tougher line toward the Russians that he has advocated. McCain is the one who has distinguished himself here,” he told me.
If this was the first real foreign policy test of the presidential campaign, the score right now is McCain 10 and Obama 0.
Donald Lambro, chief political correspondent of The Washington Times, is a nationally syndicated columnist.