Editorial: Not nuts about Obama's talk

Published: Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 03:05 PM.

The United States’ present reputation on making threats can be summed up like this: We talk tough but we don’t follow up.

It’s mostly talk. Our walk, as my grandmother used to say, doesn’t equal our talk. The recent threat to use force in Syria — the president’s red line that became a pink line and then no line at all is one example.

“I double dog dare ya’ to step across this line! Well, OK, how ‘bout this one? Well, would you mind not stepping across THIS line pretty please with sugar on it and a cherry on top?”

Look, I support our civilian leaders being very reluctant to put American lives at risk. Armed force should be the last choice only after diplomatic, economic and political options have been exhausted and failed.

But when we’ve exhausted all other options and we say we’re going to use force, we better use it. If we say there will be consequences, there had better be real consequences, not just idle words.

Yes, we need to be careful about what we say, but when we say it, we need to mean what we say and then act upon what we say. Our walk has to equal our talk or we lose all credibility.

What credibility you rightfully ask? About the recent incursion into Crimea by Russian military forces over the political instability in the Ukraine, President Obama warned Russian President Putin that “there would be consequences.” What consequences could Putin possibly be concerned about given the United States’ recent mealy-mouthed wishy-washiness?

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