Sen. Johnson: 'President Nero' Fiddling 'While World Burns'

Friday, 18 Jul 2014 05:32 PM

By Cathy Burke

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President Barack Obama is "sitting on the sidelines" in the Ukraine and Gaza crises, making him little more than "President Nero" fiddling "while the world burns," Sen. Ron Johnson charged Friday.

The Wisconsin Republican and member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee blasted the president for attending fundraisers in New York on Thursday night, the same day of a "barbaric" attack on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 and Israel's push into Gaza.

Johnson told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV that Obama's priorities are "outrageous."

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"I'm hoping Americans are watching as President Nero fiddles while the world burns," Johnson said. "It is outrageous that we have the ground operations conducted in Gaza, we have an airliner knocked out of the sky — blown out of the sky — over Ukraine, and President Obama takes off for fundraisers in New York."

"This is a pattern of activity like his Las Vegas fundraiser after four Americans were killed in Benghazi," Johnson added. "Elections have consequences, and right now, unfortunately, America is burying the burden of a very bad, a very unwise decision in November 2012."

It's clear the blame for the horrific missile attack on the Malaysian plane is Russian President Vladimir Putin, and he must be held accountable, Johnson said.

"We have to back up the words with real action," Johnson said. "That's something this president has utterly refused to do. The person to blame here is Vladimir Putin, but it's our lack of resolve, it's our lack of a strong response that continues to give him the signal that he can continue to act in this barbaric way with impunity."

Johnson said it's "pretty obvious" Putin has been "destabilizing eastern Ukraine, then providing weaponry, advisers, and enabling this incident to actually happen.

"If you give a hand grenade to a bunch of monkeys and that hand grenade goes off, who's responsible for the damage that hand grenade inflicts? It really is the person who hands the people the weapons — and that's Vladimir Putin," he said.

The way to help Ukraine, he said, is to "rebuild its military."

"Allow President [Petro] Poroshenko to gain control over his borders and over eastern Ukraine," he urged. "He's not going to be able to do that if we sit quietly on the sidelines and provide things like [ready-to-eat meals], radios, first aid kits, sleeping mats, and uniform items … It's got to have Vladimir Putin shaking in his boots."

Johnson also decried "American administrations … pressuring Israel to engage in peace negotiations with a … partner that refuses to acknowledge [its] right to exist."

"There is no moral equivalency between Hamas and Israel," he said. "Israel has missiles to protect its people. Hamas uses its people to protect its missiles. We need to fully support Israel."

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