The Candidates Talk Russia, Round Two

Obama, "Russia sucks." McCain, "I agree."

Russia was a topic at the second Presidential debate after an absence at last week’s Veep debate. Both candidates pretty much repeated what they said two weeks ago with little variation.  McCain repeated is famous quip, ” I said I looked into [Putin] eyes and saw three letters, a K, a G and a B.” Both wagged their finger at Russia’s bad, aggressive behavior. Both pledged moral support for Ukraine, Georgia, Poland, Latvia, and Estonia.  Both denied a new Cold War was in the making at the same time both agreed that Russia was a challenge for the next US President.  Obama even dared to say that holding Russia back was about “keeping all of [us] safe.”

Then Tom Brokaw threw this one out: “This requires only a yes or a no. Ronald Reagan famously said that the Soviet Union was the evil empire. Do you think that Russia under Vladimir Putin is an evil empire?

Oh no.  Brokaw went old school.  Bringing out the big E-word. Of course neither Obama or McCain answered with a simple “yes” or “no,” though latter did give a terse “Maybe” before explaining himself. McCain even suggested that confronting Russia was part of the global resource wars. I appreciate his candor that the US interest is in energy and not some democracy gobbledygook.

Here’s what they said:

OBAMA: I think they’ve engaged in an evil behavior and I think that it is important that we understand they’re not the old Soviet Union but they still have nationalist impulses that I think are very dangerous.

BROKAW: Sen. McCain?

MCCAIN: Maybe.

BROKAW: Maybe.

MCCAIN: Depends on how we respond to Russia and it depends on a lot of things. If I say yes, then that means that we’re reigniting the old Cold War. If I say no, it ignores their behavior.

Obviously energy is going to be a big, big factor. And Georgia and Ukraine are both major gateways of energy into Europe. And that’s one of the reasons why it’s in our interest.

But the Russians, I think we can deal with them but they’ve got to understand that they’re facing a very firm and determined United States of America that will defend our interests and that of other countries in the world.

Evil behavior without being evil in essence. Sounds like Cold War rhetoric without the Cold War.  All the fun without the calories! Does this mean we are in some kind of Diet Cold War?