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Wolfowitz: Obama Should Admit 'Mistake' in Policy Toward Russia

Image: Wolfowitz: Obama Should Admit 'Mistake' in Policy Toward Russia

By Bill Hoffmann   |   Thursday, 20 Mar 2014 05:02 PM

President Barack Obama should admit his reset on foreign policy toward Russia — which on Thursday reportedly seized Ukraine's navy headquarters in Crimea— was wrong, former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz says.

"We'd do a lot better if the president could acknowledge that all of that talk of reset was a mistake and that it was a mistake for him to promise President [Vladimir] Putin back before the 2012 election that he would have more flexibility in the future," Wolfowitz told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.

"I don't expect him to admit that but it really has gotten on the wrong track and we continue on the wrong track, unfortunately."

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Wolfowitz, a senior scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and former president of the World Bank, said Russia's new ban on nine Americans, including Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona — from entering Russia, could be seen as an honor.

"I assume other senators and congressmen are going to want to get on that list," he said.

"Who wants to go to Moscow these days? You can't even be sure that you're going to emerge intact.... It's a lawless country."

Wolfowitz said the United States is not about to go to war with Russian troops the way it did against Soviet troops in Afghanistan under President Jimmy Carter, but believes the Obama administration is being too vague in its response to Russia.

"This is a very serious breach of fundamental agreements. The administration talks in very vague language about it, it being a violation of international law. I don’t think anybody is much moved by that," Wolfowitz said.

Wolfowitz said he would not compare Putin's actions to those of Adolf Hitler, but said there are some parallels.

"[Putin is] a joke compared to Hitler unfortunately or fortunately, but [his entry into Ukraine] was the same pretext on which Germany took the western parts of Czechoslovakia in 1938," he said.

"And it's a very dangerous precedent when most of central and eastern Europe, most of those countries had very large ethnic minorities within their borders.

"Somewhere between 20 and 30 percent of the population of central and Eastern Europe were minorities living in a country with a different ethnic majority. If this were extended to the three Baltic countries, which are members of NATO, then you've got a major test of U.S. commitment and resolve."

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