'New Yorker' Editor: Bush 'Foolishly' Going Into Iraq Gave Putin 'Justification' to Invade Ukraine

Appearing on NBC's Late Night on Tuesday – aired early Wednesday morning – New Yorker editor and former Washington Post Moscow correspondent David Remnick defended Barack Obama's poor handling of the Ukrainian crisis by bashing George W. Bush: "I think President Obama was elected not to get into more wars....his predecessor, President Bush, foolishly, at the very best, got into a war in Iraq that was a disaster." [Listen to the audio]

Remnick continued: "And by the way, it gives [Russian President Vladimir] Putin some justification [to invade Ukraine]. He says, 'Don't lecture me. Don't lecture me about invasion,' and so on. No matter how justified or not that may be, that's a point he goes out and makes in front of his own people."

Remnick's rant was prompted by host Seth Myers wondering:

...it seems like there's a lot of criticism of President Obama and how he's projecting strength back. Do you think there's anything that the President could have done differently in the lead up to this? Or is this something that Putin was always gonna do once Ukraine decided to, you know, vote towards pulling itself closer to Europe?

On the March 3 Today show, Remnick similarly fretted over American hypocrisy in standing up to Russia: "The United States also does not have the leverage it wants in historical terms. Invading countries is something the United States knows about from really raw experience."

Tuesday's NBC Nightly News tried to insulate Obama from blame. Anchor Brian Williams declared: "Even though the U.S. is calling this a land grab, there's nothing anyone can do about it..." In the report that followed, chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell noted: "Many Russian experts argue Putin would have gone after Ukraine no matter who was in the White House."

Here is a transcript of Remnick's March 18 exchange with Myers aired Wednesday morning:

1:26 AM ET

(...)

SETH MYERS: Now a lot of – obviously there's a lot of criticism when we talk about the projection of strength – it seems like there's a lot of criticism of President Obama and how he's projecting strength back. Do you think there's anything that the President could have done differently in the lead up to this? Or is this something that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin was always gonna do once Ukraine decided to, you know, vote towards pulling itself closer to Europe?

DAVID REMNICK [EDITOR, NEW YORKER]: Well, I think President Obama was elected not to get into more wars. That a lot of the way politics works out, presidencies work out, is that you're reacting to your predecessor. There's a predecessor-successor dynamic. But, his predecessor, President Bush, foolishly, at the very best, got into a war in Iraq that was a disaster.

And by the way, it gives Putin some justification. He says, "Don't lecture me. Don't lecture me about invasion," and so on. No matter how justified or not that may be, that's a point he goes out and makes in front of his own people.

(...)

— Kyle Drennen is News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Kyle Drennen on Twitter.