I am conflicted on the Ukraine crisis. On one hand, I wish America would stay out of other countries’ politics. On the other hand, now that they are so obviously involved, Americans have promises to keep.
American institutions – the CIA and the Endowment for Democracy, for example – seem to be involved in fomenting the uprising that led to the crisis. And President Obama has come out on the side of the anti-Russian rebels. Indeed, he has explicitly promised to help them.
Congress is in such disarray that it cannot agree on a financial aid package for the Ukraine. The House passed a bill last week to provide $1 billion in loan guarantees. But the Senate’s version got shot down.
John McCain is livid. Groups he supports were apparently mixed up in protests that ran off the Ukrainian president, and – of course – he wants the US to support the new regime.
Russia’s actions are clearly indefensible. Vladimir Putin is preparing to invade the Ukraine and annex the Crimea in defiance of international law. On the other hand, America’s support of the rebels is also questionable. The new regime came to power via a coup and the president they deposed – however misguided he might be – was democratically elected.
But that’s not why Republican senators refused to approve the Ukraine aid package.
Harry Reid blames the Koch Brothers because their political puppets insisted on including looser campaign funding regulations in the bill. But Senate Republicans cite the bill’s provisions to expand the International Monetary Fund’s lending capacity as their reason for voting against it.
Whatever the reason, the result is clear. American credibility has been damaged.
In this push-you-pull-you Congress, where no faction seems to agree with any other – unified action on international crises seems impossible.
It’s a troubling message to send to a world in turmoil.
As America stumbles toward the mid-term elections in November, Congress becomes more and more like a Keystone Cops movie – except that in this case it’s not a farcical comedy but a tragic farce.