A few hours before President Barack Obama gave his blessings to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s attempts to seek a negotiated settlement with Russia over the crisis in Ukraine, Louisiana’s Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal on Tuesday charged that the White House was "not leading at all" on this issue and called to do "anything we can do to change the calculus."
As to whether "anything" means the U.S. would arm Ukraine over objections of the European community, likely 2016 presidential contender Jindal replied without hesitation: "Absolutely—they are our allies."
Jindal made his remarks at a press breakfast in Washington hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. Replying to a question from Newsmax as to who his foreign policy advisors are, the Pelican State governor revealed that he has talked to former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton and former secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Moreover, Jindal told us, he has read extensively from the books of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
But he also said he has no regular foreign policy advisor, much as New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller relied on then-Harvard Prof. Kissinger in the 1960s and how California Gov. Ronald Reagan turned to Prof. Richard Allen when he was gearing up for a presidential run in the 1970s.
"I have no one person advising me," he said, adding that he "talks to a wide range of people" on foreign policy and "make my own decisions."
Jindal, who has yet to formally announce his intentions for '16, told reporters he feels strongly that the Obama administration is largely responsible for Russian interference that led to its annexation of Crimea and the current turmoil Eastern Ukraine.
"The White House is not leading at all," the Louisianan said, "We know that [Russian President Vladimir Putin] went to Crimea in part because he didn’t fear repercussions." Moreover, he recalled, "the last agreements [with Ukraine] have not been respected."
As to what signals from the Obama administration emboldened Putin to action, Jindal pointed to his unilateral withdrawal of "missile interceptors form the Czech Republic" and "President Obama and Secretary [of State Hillary] Clinton’s trying a reset with Russia, and that didn’t work."
"So, our enemies don’t fear us and our allies don’t trust us," he said, "Putin felt it was a good move to go into Crimea."
"The U.S. should be concerned," said Jindal, "with what message Iran is taking from Putin’s response" to events in Ukraine.
"What worries me most is what happens to Iran," he said, because a nuclear-armed Iran could be followed by "Egypt, the Saudis, and Turkey" all obtaining nuclear arms. Jindal suspects "they have an agreement with Pakistan [to provide nuclear technology]."
"We have made too deep cuts in the Pentagon budget and this has been more partisan than bipartisan," added Jindal, "the bipartisan consensus is that a stronger America leaders to a safer world."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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