May 1st, 2014
07:59 PM ET
3 months ago

Crossfire: Is Obama striding or stumbling on the world stage?

(CNN) – Is Barack Obama doing enough to stop Vladimir Putin?

That’s the question CNN “Crossfire” co-hosts Van Jones, on the left, and Newt Gingrich, on the right, asked Rep. Karen Bass, D-California, and Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, on Thursday.

Bass, who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said "weakness would look like doing nothing."

"I think what the President has done has been strong, and I do think that he's showing the leadership and I do think the Europeans will follow," she said.

She added that tougher sanctions applied against Russia over the Ukraine crisis could have a real impact, if European leaders follow suit.

But Johnson argued sanctions aren't going to be enough to stop the Russian leader, who's continued his power stance on the border of Ukraine after the annexation of Crimea.

Republicans contend Obama's policies present weakness abroad, empowering leaders like Putin to buck the international community as violence escalates in Ukraine.

Jones said Republicans are being hypocritical.

A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed that nearly half of Americans surveyed want the United States to be less active in foreign affairs. That's compared to 19% in the survey who think the country ought to be more involved.

"Why are the Republicans out here (being demagogues) on this stuff when the Americans aren't even with you?" Jones asked.

Johnson said the United States has exhibited weakness.

Russia, Syria, Middle East: Is the U.S. losing its ability to sway allies?

"We have to show strength and resolve,” he said. “Vladimir Putin isn't going to listen to words. And the President says all kinds of good things but you have to back those with action. He will only respond to action."

Johnson, who's a member of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, said the United States should supply defensive weapons to the Ukrainian people and open up energy markets.

He argued that U.S. punishment against Putin needs to hit him where it hurts, saying Obama needs to help Europe break its dependence on Russia’s oil and gas reserves.

Obama can't have it both ways, Gingrich added.

"The President has been trying to do both, that is he doesn't want to use military force but he draws red lines," he said. "How do you have an activist, non-activist; interventionist, non-interventionist policy?"

Related: 5 takeaways from Obama's trip to Asia

During his final stop of a week-long tour of Asia, Obama on Monday fiercely defended his foreign policy choices, arguing his decisions avoid military force.

"Why is it that everybody is so eager to use military force after we've just gone through a decade of war at enormous costs to our troops and to our budget?" he asked at one point. "And what is it exactly that these critics think would have been accomplished?"

Bass agreed, saying that "constituents in my district, the last thing they want to hear is we're getting into another conflict."

Obama begins Asia tour with reassurance to Japan

Tune in to Crossfire, weeknights @ 6:30 pm ET on CNN


Filed under: Crossfire • Foreign Policy • Obama administration • President Obama • Ron Johnson • Russia • Ukraine • Vladimir Putin
soundoff (47 Responses)
  1. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    smith:The threat of force used to be a great asset for the US, we no longer have that asset.
    -------------------------------------------------
    That's a curious statement for you to make smith. Do you really believe that or are you trying to get everybody's juices going?
    At our current military levels, and with all the weaponry and military technology currently at our disposal I believe that we can hold our own against a much more advanced and developed military than what Russia purportedly currently has.
    That would include any Iranian nukes btw.
    However, I do believe that in this age of enlightment engaging the global community in this dispute is the best route to take. And that is exactly what the President has been doing in incremental steps.

    May 2, 2014 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  2. Chris-E...al

    Obama and the dems like to give away things . Pride . Military . strength . Respect . lie . Honor . Integrity . comes to mind .

    May 2, 2014 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  3. Vertistine Mbaya

    President Obama is doing his part to erase an image across the globe of the USA as a boastful. vainglorious, deceitful nation that hopes to bully all others into some type of submission!!! God Bless Him for his efforts!

    May 2, 2014 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  4. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    I tell you one thing I do believe. I believe it makes us look like a divided country when our elected officials are on tv day after day degrading our POTUS. And I would feel that way no matter who was in office. I felt that way when Bush was in office when the GOP called anyone a traitor that didn't back him. Heck I was told it was unpatriotic to bad mouth the POTUS during war time. I guess that flew out the window with the 2008 election.

    I understand the GOP is desperate to regain power and will do it by any means necessary. Call me crazy but it would seem to me if the GOP at least pretended to be adults instead of little boys throwing a hissy fit and actually did some real work to get this country back on track, more people would respect them. But no they won't do that because of their superiority complex that has them believing this is their country and someone like him shouldn't be in charge. So they do what they do best. They cater to the lowest common denominator, they turn everything into a massive government conspiracy and scare people into supporting their idiotic actions. It's deplorable and so are they. I wouldn't vote GOP if someone had a gun to my head.

    Simply pathetic.

    May 2, 2014 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  5. Denise

    Any wonder more Democrats served in the military who are currently in Congress? The party of true patriots is another myth; they are mostly neo con chickenhawks who support war at any cost!

    May 2, 2014 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  6. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    I tell you one thing I do believe. I believe it makes us look like a divided country when our elected officials are on tv day after day degrading our POTUS. And I would feel that way no matter who was in office. I felt that way when Bush was in office when the GOP called anyone a traitor that didn't back him. Heck I was told it was unpatriotic to bad mouth the POTUS during war time. I guess that flew out the window with the 2008 election.
    -------------------------------------------------
    Nothing left for me to do or say but co-sign.
    You spoke nothing but the truth WUP!

    May 2, 2014 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  7. smith

    @DM4O-The US has been fighting a global war since 1991 and our forces are now being cut down to pre WW2 levels. We couldn`t handle Russia or China at this point.

    May 2, 2014 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  8. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    WUP! wrote:
    Call me crazy but it would seem to me if the GOP at least pretended to be adults instead of little boys throwing a hissy fit and actually did some real work to get this country back on track, more people would respect them.
    -------------------------------------------------
    Certainly more people might consider voting for them and they could finally cut their dependency on having to suck up to the Teatard followers who are nothing but extremists and nutjobs, and does nothing but drive intelligent voters further away from the GOP.

    May 2, 2014 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  9. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    President Obama is doing his part to erase an image across the globe of the USA as a boastful. vainglorious, deceitful nation that hopes to bully all others into some type of submission!!! God Bless Him for his efforts!
    -------------------------------------------------
    Hear! Hear!
    My exact sentiments.

    May 2, 2014 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  10. Gunderson

    Well,
    If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, wobbles like a duck, it must be a duck. The only stage Obama should be on is the Stage out of town. The next one leaves in five minutes, be on it. Truthfully, Obama has no idea if he is on a stage or not. Kinda like those Shovel Ready Projects. We haven't found them yet. Or maybe, if you like you Nanny, you can keep your Nanny. Your Nanny is in the same place those Shovel Ready Projects are in, nowhere.

    May 2, 2014 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  11. yolanda

    @Hodgson, Are you agreeing with Islamic fundamentalists bombings on civilians, both Muslim and non-Muslim? I am curious to learn more about your statement that "Jihad is justified." Thanks.

    May 2, 2014 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  12. Silence DoGood

    @Chris-E...al
    Obama and the dems like to give away things . Pride . Military . strength . Respect . lie . Honor . Integrity . comes to mind .
    ---------–
    Certain extreme conservatives like to take things: US soldiers lives in a wasted war, Tax money in a wasted war, lives of citizens in other countries invaded by mistake, religious rights of others, rights of the poor and workers, privacy of citizens come to mind.

    May 2, 2014 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  13. Lynda/Minnesota

    "I believe it makes us look like a divided country when our elected officials are on tv day after day degrading our POTUS. And I would feel that way no matter who was in office. I felt that way when Bush was in office when the GOP called anyone a traitor that didn't back him. Heck I was told it was unpatriotic to bad mouth the POTUS during war time. I guess that flew out the window with the 2008 election."

    And I believe you hit the nail on the head, WUP.

    Great post.

    May 2, 2014 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  14. Tom1940

    The U.S. Version of "Neville Chamberlain", (the British Prime Minister in 1939), President Obama is sitting in the White House paralyzed with fear and anxiety that his legacy will be that of leaving office with having started a war. Any war, any where, for any reason. His fall from grace, both domestically and internationally is because of displaying weakness, hesitating in making decisions. This arises, because as the least prepared person ever elected President, he cannot have done anything else but fail. He is right on track. He wanted hope and change for the country. Now that it is "arrived", I do not believe there will be any quick nor easy fixes to undo the damage has done to this country.

    May 2, 2014 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  15. Marty

    The US under this administration is in a weaker political and economic position in the world. US relations with other countries is poor (trust and confidence in US actions to support our allies). The legacy for President Obama and his administration is already written by people like Putin and places like Syria and Libya. It's to bad the President had a chance to build and expand instead we have declined and are not trusted in the world.

    May 2, 2014 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  16. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    tom l
    May I ask you what your thoughts are about how Jay Carney is saying that the email from Ben Rhodes wasn't even about Benghazi?
    -------------------------------------------------
    You're a funny and persistent man tom l I will give you that!
    Proceed tom l.....proceed....

    May 2, 2014 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  17. YoonYoungJo

    The only thing I question is how often the same tactic will work. Putin's con to grab Crimea continues as he not attempts to grab the Ukraine. It's like a well that keeps supplying water so why goto another well? At some point when someone/anyone uses the same tactic regardless of the circumstance over and over again it becomes extremely obvious. That would be like GM with their current debacle with their ignition switches and they tried to blame every customer set their own cars on fire. All 10,000 people unknown to each other all having the exact same issue and reason for their claim? Come on. This is no different the Putin, claiming he has no control over the troops he supposedly doesn't have in Crimea and Ukraine. That Crimea conveniently falls into the hands of Russia. That's the only flaw of con artists. They use the same con over and over again. The same scam/charade time and time again.

    May 2, 2014 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  18. enuff

    If the shoe were on the other foot, how would they ask if Putin was doing enough to stop the US? Really. How is the US going to do this by ourselves? The US.cannot control other governments...obvisly,This cowboy shoot em up , ride into the sunset mentality won't work. We even had allies in WWII. No way did we take on Hitler/Mussolini/Hirohito by ourselves.

    May 2, 2014 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  19. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Thanks DM and Lynda... As usual I spoke from the heart. TGIF. Any weekend plans ladies?? I'm going to the Cinco de Mayo celebration in SW Detroit. Lots of good food and Margaritas!

    May 2, 2014 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  20. Sniffit

    "Heck I was told it was unpatriotic to bad mouth the POTUS during war time. I guess that flew out the window with the 2008 election."

    Hehe...pretty much. Part of it is that most GOPers/Teatrolls just flipped the denial switch in their brains and have spent the past 6+ years simply not considering Obama to actually be the POTUS. It's sort of the same when it comes to the poor and women and minorities for them: they simply don't consider them to be fellow human beings.

    May 2, 2014 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  21. smith

    @Denise-You have nothing to brag about with regards to military service. B. Clinton didn`t serve, B. Obama didn`t serve, and possibly the next dem potus(H. Clinton) didn`t serve.

    May 2, 2014 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  22. Silence DoGood

    @Dominican mama 4 Obama
    tom l
    May I ask you what your thoughts are about how Jay Carney is saying that the email from Ben Rhodes wasn't even about Benghazi?
    -----------------
    You're a funny and persistent man tom l I will give you that!
    Proceed tom l.....proceed....
    ------------
    If I may remind all: Conservative bloggers (again) said yesterday that this very news would explode today and destroy Obama. Like the time before and before and ......

    May 2, 2014 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
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