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NPR's Mara Liasson blames Bush, Republicans for Ukraine

Russian soldiers sit on a tank as Georgian women pass by in Gori.
Russian soldiers sit on a tank as Georgian women pass by in Gori.
Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images

On Sunday, Mara Liasson, National Public Radio's national political correspondent, blamed George W. Bush and Republicans for the situation in Ukraine, claiming their inaction in 2008 when Vladimir Putin invaded Georgia set the stage for the current crisis, Breitbart.com reported.

"I would say the critique from Republicans is more of a retrospective critique," she said. "In other words, the president's past actions, his reset with Russia failed. That's what laid the groundwork for this. The reset, of course, was the idea that if you had better relations with Russia they would help us on Iran, Syria and North Korea. But the interesting thing is that back under George W. Bush, when Russia essentially annexed a part of Georgia, there was very little criticism from Republicans, and maybe that, much more than the failure to bomb Syria, is what laid the groundwork for this."

But as Breitbart's Joel B. Pollack noted, Bush strongly condemned the action and issued sanctions which were undone just months later by Barack Obama.

There were, of course, other problems which Liasson did not mention.

Although Bush's response was seen as weak, the Georgian army fell apart, the UPI noted at the time, and no one expected the Russians to invade.

The UPI also said that "as a result of the Georgian collapse, a lot of U.S. material that has been delivered to Georgia to make it militarily credible has fallen into Russian hands already."

Bush, who was at the Olympics in Beijing at the time, issued a statement calling for an end to the bombings.

“Georgia is a sovereign nation, and its territorial integrity must be respected. We have urged an immediate halt to the violence and a stand-down by all troops. We call for the end of the Russian bombings,” he said.

“Russian aggression must not go unanswered,” former Vice President Dick Cheney said on August 10.

A report issued by the Congressional Research Service in 2009 added:

Also appearing to take a stronger stance, former President Bush on August 11 referred to his conversation with Putin on August 8, stating that he had told Putin that “this violence [in Georgia] is unacceptable,” and that he had “expressed my grave concern about the disproportionate response of Russia and that we strongly condemn bombing outside of South Ossetia.” On August 12, then-Secretary Rice stated that she was encouraged by reports from French Foreign Minister Koucher in Moscow that there was progress in talks with President Medvedev about the EU peace plan, and reiterated that the United States supports Georgia’s territorial integrity and “its democratically elected government."

Breitbart said it is certainly possible to trace the current crisis beyond Syria and Benghazi, and noted that Liasson failed to mention that Sarah Palin predicted the Ukrainian invasion in 2008 -- a prediction that drew howls from the left.

"Russia grew bolder in the lame-duck years of the Bush administration--which had come to office, like Obama, seeking to find new ways to accommodate Putin's regime," Pollack wrote.

But, he added, accommodation turned into appeasement under Obama.

"In the context of Obama's outright capitulation on missile defense, and his infamous promise to then-President Dmitry Medvedev in 2012 that he would have more 'flexibility' after his re-election, Republican criticism looks to be spot-on--even if many of the party's suggested alternatives are, as Liasson notes, rather underwhelming," Pollack said.

Although Liasson is normally fair to Republicans, Pollack said she "stepped over the line" with her comments, which he called revisionist. She is also not the only media figure to blame the former president for the current crisis.

As we reported last Monday, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow attempted to blame Bush for the crisis in Ukraine and pretty much everything else going on in the Middle East today.

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