Putin's Russia poses a potentially serious threat to the United States. But America lacks the moral standing to confront it. That was the view expressed by Ellen Ratner on this morning's Fox & Friends. Ratner, the short, liberal side of 'The Long & the Short of It' duo [seen here in file photo], expressed little doubt that Putin's government was behind the murder of Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko.
Ratner: "I think that there's no question. If I were a betting woman it would be 100% Putin and Russia, it's just their operation and they have the means to do it."
She continued: "We have got to take a very good, careful look at Russia. We're in Iraq where you have sort of a ragtag group of insurgents. And we're not focusing on the Russians that have over 5,000 nukes [and other WMDs] . . . Unfortunately, we're in business with these guys, we need their oil."
That's when Ratner asserted that America's alleged moral failings limited its options:
"I don't know what we should do except that we are not in a great position because we don't have the moral standing given what we're doing in Iraq."
Long, conservative counterpart Jim Pinkerton agreed that America is hamstrung by its oil dependence: "She's right about the oil issue. The issue of energy independence where we're no longer importing oil from countries like Iran, Venezuela or Russia I think is vital. I think that as long as we're dependent on the Russians for oil, our leverage on them and our ability to persuade them to stop doing things that are directly antithetical to human rights and American interests is extremely limited."
Replied Ratner: "Jim is beginning to sound like a Democrat. This is what Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid want - energy independence." In fact, both parties pay lip service to energy independence. They differ on the means. Dems put their faith in pie-in-the-sky programs like bio-mass and windfarms, that at best are years away from being anywhere near as cheap or efficient as fossil fuels. Break out the Jimmy Carter cardigans. Republicans favor measures that would make us more independent in the shorter term, such as drilling in ANWR and offshore. And why not go nuclear in a big way, as has France?
In any case, in what sense does Ratner believe that our involvement in Iraq deprives us of the moral standing to stand up to Putin? We can debate the merits of the Iraq war, but few would question it was done, even if mistakenly, for morally defensible reasons - a combination of national security and a desire to promote democracy in the Middle East. And even if one adopts a Sorosian/Sheehanite view of America-the-Evil, why would that prevent the US from pursuing its national interest vis a vis Putin's Russia if it is indeed the serious threat that Ratner suggests it to be?
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