How Obama Allowed Putin to Invade Ukraine: A Study

Putin's invasion of Ukraine is President Obama's fault, as Obama critics have been hasty to point out. But what Obama specifically did is still up for contention. Here are the nominees.

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While you may think that the conflict unfolding between Russia and Ukraine is the result of hundreds of years of tension that has culminated in a struggle over the country's resources and future political allegiances, you are wrong. It is President Obama's fault, as Obama critics have been hasty to point out. But what Obama specifically did is still up for contention. Here are the nominees.

Putin invaded because of Benghazi.

No less an esteemed entity than South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham went on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon to suggest that the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens in Libya in 2012 was to blame.

This was too much for other conservatives, like Michelle Malkin. Malkin's concern, we will note, was that Graham was being disrepectful to Benghazi, not the president.

Bonus: Cartoonist Tom Tomorrow had planned to make a "blame Benghazi" joke in his next strip, but thought it too unlikely.

Putin invaded because of Syria.

The Daily Caller asks, "Did Obama's 'red line' invite Putin’s power play?" And The Washington Post's Marc Thiessen answers: Yes, totally. Syria, he writes, "was one of the most embarrassing and emasculating episodes in the history of U.S. foreign policy." So did "he really expect Putin to take him seriously" when announcing that there would be a cost to Russia's actions?

Enter the voice of reason. Raheem Kassam at Breitbart said on February 20 that "a lot of the reporting that has come out of Kiev over the past 72 hours has been both gratuitous and under-informed." When, in fact, "the reality is actually rather simple": per a Wall Street Journal editorial, Putin acted because of the Syria thing. OK then!

Putin invaded because Obama is / was not tough.

This is an expansion of the Syria argument. Is the real problem that Obama is always insufficiently tough, and that makes Putin feel bold?

We've been over this argument before, but The American Prospect has a lengthy, updated index. According to Graham and Rep. Tom Cotton and former Sen. Jim DeMint and Charles Krauthammer and Bill Kristol and various anonymous people, Obama didn't project enough strength, so Putin just waltzed into Ukraine. No, not waltzed. Marched masculinely.

Putin invaded because Obama is / was too tough.


At least one member of the Russian parliament suggested that Graham and Cotton and DeMint and so on were precisely wrong. According to BuzzFeed's Miriam Elder, Deputy Speaker Yury Vorobyov was angry at Obama's critique of Russia's early moves. "Yesterday, from various media, we heard how U.S. President Obama declared that Russia would dearly pay for her politics," he said, according to Elder. "I think these words of the U.S. president are a direct threat, and he crossed a red line, he insulted the Russian people."

The "red line" is a pointed reference to another time that Obama indicated that use of chemical weapons by Syria would constitute a line past which the United States would need to act. (This came up earlier.)

Putin invaded because Obama didn't prevent Russia from attacking Georgia before Obama was president.

Sarah Palin made this argument in 2008, so now what.

Putin invaded because he's more strategic than Obama.

On Fox News Sunday, House Intelligence Chair Rep. Mike Rogers declared that Putin was "playing chess and [Obama is] playing marbles." Which sounds bad, unless the game itself actually is marbles, in which case Putin's insistence on shooting horse-shaped marbles in small L-shapes will come back to bite him.

Putin invaded because he is racist against Obama.

These are probably jokes.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.