Former National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane said on Newsmax TV
on Friday that the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine that killed 298 people was "barbarism" and that "it ought to be condemned as such" by world leaders, especially President Barack Obama.
"There is civilized behavior and there is barbarism, the latter is what we have seen here," McFarlane, who served under President Ronald Reagan, told "The Steve Malzberg Show."
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"The events in Ukraine should've provoked the same kind of shrill and criticism of this savage barbarism that Russia could have prevented," he added. "Clearly, it's Russian weaponry, Russian training, Russian encouragement of the militants in eastern Ukraine.
"It is outrage without any possible justification, ought to provoke the sharp criticism and action on the part of Western Europe, NATO, United States to begin to restore what we had 20 years ago in the way of deterrence and the kind of strength that would have deterred and prevented this kind of outrage."
The attack Thursday afternoon killed 298 people from nearly a dozen nations, including vacationers, students, and a large contingent of scientists. One American
died in the assault — and at least 189 were from the Netherlands.
The plane was shot down in eastern Ukraine, near the border with Russia, in an area where Moscow's support for pro-Russian separatists has alarmed the United States and its European allies. The incident occurred a day after Obama announced broader economic sanctions against Russia for its threatening moves in Ukraine.
At the White House on Friday, Obama called the attack an "outrage of unspeakable proportions" and called for an immediate cease-fire to allow for a "credible" unfettered investigation. The president warned that the incident showed the crisis in Ukraine won't be localized or contained to the region.
"This should snap everybody's heads to attention," Obama said.
McFarlane slammed the president for not immediately rallying world allies against Russian President Vladimir Putin. Obama first commented on the incident at a speech in Wilmington, Delaware, on increased federal spending for infrastructure projects.
He and Putin had discussed the crash briefly on Thursday.
"It would have been at least worthy if he had stayed in the White House and had begun to contact our allies in Europe to gain consensus immediately and statements from collective European Union, from NATO authorities," McFarlane told Malzberg.
"In short, to demonstrate the solidarity that the West is not going to tolerate this kind of barbarism, the president should be on top of things like this and engage allies, show leadership from the front so that Russia simply doesn't take this as a message that they can encourage this kind of violence with impunity.
"Leadership, that's what's called for here."
McFarlane added: "This was not isolated, something that happened overseas, something of no consequence to the United States. The rule of law is important. It ought to be observed by Russia and every other sovereign nation."
As Reagan's national security adviser from 1983 to 1985, McFarlane championed the Strategic Defense Initiative that increased U.S. missile defenses to deter the Soviet Union. He told Malzberg that Putin's recent actions prove that "he's a danger and an increasing one" to the West and the United States in particular.
"If it's clear [to Putin] that, as he carries out acts like this or allows them to happen, there's no response. Going back to early months of this year when he moved into Crimea, there ought to have been a signal to us that we needed to rally the West.
"We've been taking a peace dividend for more than 20 years since the end of the Cold War, believing that somehow … ruthless people like Putin have suddenly gone away. Well, obviously, they haven't.
"But the only way they're deterred is when collective security organizations worthy of the name like NATO go back to offering a plausible deterrent — and that's military as well as political unity and economic sanctions. They ought to be a lot tougher than they are right now."
McFarlane also called for "a restoring of our forces deployed in Europe, an improvement of those of our NATO allies.
"In short, evidence that if this happens again, we will respond and do whatever it takes to roll back Soviet attempts to commit aggression against its former constituent countries of the Warsaw Pact.
"We ought to show them that this cannot continue," McFarlane told Malzberg. "The United States is going to lead our NATO allies in restoring the strength needed to deter this kind of behavior."
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