Obama has understood from the beginning that, in certain global situations, American power is severely limited. Despite the overwhelming US military arsenal, we cannot police the world as we wish -- unless we want to risk miring ourselves in new Iraqs and Afghanistans. Our best use of our power is to use our diplomatic skills to resolve disputes without resort to armed action. Obama is now trying to do this in Syria, Iran, North Korea, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and in Ukraine. Obama's pragmatism may sometimes seem too cautious or too "small ball" -- but, so far, over six years he has kept the peace, brought our troops back from Iraq and Afghanistan, and saved our country from wars in Syria, Iran and Ukraine. Not a terrible record after all.
This week was consumed with the drama in Crimea, where 30,000 Russian troops provoked a tense standoff. Right on cue, the usual Beltway suspects whose foreign policy acumen gave us that glorious and tidy success, the Iraq war, sprang into action. "It started with Benghazi" (Lindsey Graham). Obama is "weak and indecisive" and "invites aggression" (John McCain). The situation raises many questions, including: why are those who've been so wrong on foreign policy still taken seriously? What Obama should do, beyond sanctions that were in place by Thursday, was unclear. Troops? Bombs? Nuclear war? Maybe we could send Mitch McConnell, who showed up at the CPAC panderfest brandishing a musket rifle. Then Ted Cruz fired up the crowd with that moldy oldie, 'repeal Obamacare.' Meanwhile, Darrell Issa shut down Elijah Cummings' microphone during Issa's fishless I.R.S. fishing expedition: a perfect metaphor for our current political debate.