David Brooks: Obama May ‘Have To Do Something a Little Crazy’ in Ukrainian Crisis

‘Obama is like the least likely person you’re ever going to meet to do something crazy’

David Brooks: Obama May 'Have To Do Something a Little Crazy' in Ukrainian Crisis (RealClearPolitics)

DAVID BROOKS: David, the president, now two rounds of sanctions against Vladimir Putin, the Russians, working with the allies to try to do something. What is the view now of how the president is handling this?

DAVID BROOKS: Doing a good job, has been forceful, started out maybe a little too modest, sanctions on just a few people, ratcheting it up, ratcheting it up.

So, I think he’s been quite as forceful as you could be, given the constraints he faces with our allies in Europe. He’s certainly been aggressive. He certainly understands the stakes. He certainly understands aggressively that Putin is not just — it’s not just about Crimea; it’s not even just about Ukraine. It’s about the post-Cold War order.

Do we have a situation where Russia can declare spheres of influence, can rewrite borders, can mess with Iran in our efforts to not allow a nuclear Iran? This is sort of a radiating thing where Putin is just an agent of disorder. And I think Obama understands that and has ratcheted up the pressure.

The only way I would fault him, a lot of what we’re dealing with here is the psychology of fear. Are we causing Putin to fear us? And by ratcheting it up, I mean, the early response to our limited sanctions was one of contempt. And now we’re getting a little more serious. But we haven’t shocked him with a little surge of fear, and Putin responds to fear.


DAVID BROOKS: I’m also thinking, sometimes you just have to do something a little crazy. Putin did something a little crazy. And we’re all, ooh, let’s not get in front of that guy.

Obama is like the least likely person you’re ever going to meet to do something crazy. He’s prudent, thinks thing through? But sometimes you just got to strike a little fear…

JUDY WOODRUFF: Like what? I mean, what would be…

DAVID BROOKS: Well, I’m beginning to think we’re going to get to a spot, if this continues to escalate, and it’s clear — well, it seems clear that Putin is — just wants to — if Ukraine wants to go West, he will dismember Ukraine.

And it seems to me that arming, not getting involved, us, in Ukraine, but arming Ukraine for some deterrent effect to keep the Russians out of there is a useful thing to start to think about. And I think we’re probably going to end up having a serious debate about that.

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