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Bush Brother Calls Putin "Bully", Warns Of "Consequences" For Russia If Elected

On Monday we highlighted what looks to be the new campaign strategy for Republican presidential hopefuls: blame the “Putin boogeyman.” 

Note that this goes beyond the usual Russophobic rhetoric that plays well with the hopelessly naive American public. In 2009, Hillary Clinton famously presented Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov with a big red “reset” button which the two pressed together in a priceless (for its sheer absurdity) photo op in Geneva. The media spectacle was meant to mark a new era for US-Russian relations.

Like many other promises made in the early days of the Obama presidency, the Russian relations reset has not gone according to plan.

In fact, one annexation, one bloody proxy war, innumerable thinly-veiled nuclear threats, and six years later, and the only thing that’s been “reset” in US-Russian relations is the Cold War. 

Now, with tensions running high on the heels of escalating violence in Ukraine, calls for stepped up economic sanctions on Moscow, and a shifting US strategy that will reportedly involve measures to “contain” the Russian threat, the likely Republican frontrunner is trying his hand at casting Putin as the embodiment of Democrats’ failed foreign policy. Jeb Bush, who is traveling in Europe ahead of announcing his candidacy, notes that when it comes to Putin, the unassuming subtlety that typically characterizes Bush family foreign policy should be discarded. Reuters has more:

Jeb Bush, who is traveling Europe ahead of announcing his candidacy, notes that when it comes to Putin, the unassuming subtlety that typically characterizes Bush family foreign policy should be discarded. Reuters has more:

 

"Ultimately I think to deal with Putin you need to deal from strength - he's a bully and ... you enable bad behavior when you're nuanced with a guy like that," Bush, the former governor of Florida, told reporters in Berlin.

 

"Just being clear - I'm not talking about being bellicose - but saying 'there are the consequences of your actions', that would deter the kind of bad outcome we don't want to see."

 

(Bush speaks in Germany on Tuesday)

 

Bush said signaling what further sanctions Russia could face, and reassuring Poland and the Baltic states that the United States would meet its NATO obligations to view an attack on one member state as an attack against the whole alliance could help halt Putin's aggression.

 

"If he thinks we're resolute I think that that's the greatest possibility of restricting any kind of further aggressions," he said.

Yes, no room for "nuance" when you're talking about a "guy like that." Bush goes on to say that given the size of the US military, there's no reason why Eastern Europe should fear the "little green men" or the type of "organized Russian crime syndicates" that were recently blamed for an IRS data breach:

"There are things that we could do given the scale of our military to send a strong signal that we're on the side of Poland and the Baltics and the countries that truly feel threatened by the little green men and this new cyber warfare and these other tactics that Russia now is using."

Finally, Bush notes that although he doesn't have the type of on-the-ground information and intelligence he would need to accurately appraise the situation and make fact-based decisions, if he had to act on no information at all, he would have preferred a "more robust" response:

"If I was president of the United States, I'd clearly take the advice of the commanders on the ground but from the outside, without having any kind of classified information, it appears that we could have a more robust response."

We're once again reminded of the hilariously accurate assessment of US foreign policy released by the Kremlin's security council back in March:

The Strategy emphasizes [that] the armed forces are considered as the basis of US national security and military superiority is considered a major factor in the American world leadership.