President Obama continues an overseas tour in Italy today where he’s meeting with Pope Francis for the first time. Wrapping up a visit to Brussels, Obama delivered an address criticizing Russia for annexing Crimea and using what he called “brute force.”
President Obama: “Of course, Ukraine is not a member of NATO, in part because of its close and complex history with Russia. Nor will Russia be dislodged from Crimea or deterred from further escalation by military force. But with time, so long as we remain united, the Russian people will recognize that they cannot achieve security, prosperity and the status that they seek through brute force.”
In his remarks, President Obama tried to counter Russian claims of U.S. hypocrisy with what critics called a revisionist take on the Iraq War. Obama said the U.S. tried to “work within the international system” before the Iraq invasion.
President Obama: “Russia has pointed to America’s decision to go into Iraq as an example of Western hypocrisy. Now, it is true that the Iraq War was a subject of vigorous debate, not just around the world, but in the United States, as well. I participated in that debate, and I opposed our military intervention there. But even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system. We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory. We did not grab its resources for our own gain. Instead, we ended our war and left Iraq to its people.”
Obama’s comments omitted the U.S. attacked Iraq without Security Council approval and that the subsequent occupation lasted over eight years.