Former president George W. Bush Defense Secretary Robert Gates defended President Obama’s handling of the Crimean invasion and his weekend golf outing on “Fox News Sunday.” Gates pushed back at conservatives who blamed President Obama’s “weak” foreign policy for Russian President Vladimir Putin being emboldened to invade Ukraine’s Crimean region.
Robert Gates also dismissed arguments that President Obama’s handling of the Syrian conflict or his efforts to reduce the defense budget gave Putin impetus to invade Crimea. He argued that Putin also invaded Georgia during the George W. Bush administration.
Gates said, My own view is, after all, Putin invaded Georgia when George W. Bush was president. Nobody ever accused George W. Bush of being weak or unwilling to use military force.” He added, “So, I think Putin is very opportunistic in these areas. I think that even if, even if we had launched attacks in Syria, even if we weren’t cutting our defense budget, I think Putin saw an opportunity here in Crimea and he has seized it.” #BOOM
You will recall Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said President Obama is “weak” and “invites aggression.” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) said, “Putin is playing chess and I think we’re playing marbles” and that Russia is “running circle around us.” Sen. John McCain also called President Obama weak.
Robert Gates also dismissed criticism of President Obama being on vacation as the Crimean crisis intensifies. He told Chris Wallace, “I’ve seen this happen year after year, president after president. President takes a day or two off and plays golf. Doesn’t matter whether it’s a President Obama or the first President Bush going fishing. I think you’ve got to give these guys a little time off, you know, mostly they are working 20 hours a day.”
Robert Gates also predicted that Russia will continue to control Crimea for the foreseeable future.