IT IS TIME TO QUIT LEADING FROM BEHIND; Congressional Record Vol. 160, No. 53
(House of Representatives - April 02, 2014)

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[Page H2806]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


                 IT IS TIME TO QUIT LEADING FROM BEHIND

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from 
Florida (Ms. Ros-Lehtinen) for 5 minutes.
  Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address the crisis in 
Ukraine, Putin's rising aggression and intransigence in the face of 
increased international opprobrium, and the failure of American 
leadership that has allowed these recent events to transpire.
  This is yet another example of Vladimir Putin looking at President 
Obama's foreign policy and making the calculation that he can do 
whatever he wants without fear that the White House will react with 
anything other than empty threats.
  We have seen this time and time again, so much so that the 
President's lead from behind policy has not only eroded our influence 
and credibility around the world, it has hurt our relations with other 
countries, and it has shown tyrants like Putin, Assad, Maduro, Kim Jung 
Un, Khamenei, and the Castros that the U.S. lacks the courage of its 
convictions.
  Putin has annexed Crimea, and we would be foolish to think that he 
will stop there as he seeks to reestablish Russia as more than just a 
regional power, and the Obama administration has misguidedly dismissed 
Putin and his provocations as those of a weakened Russia acting out.
  This is an astonishing view to take and one that could seriously harm 
our U.S. national security interests if we continue to downplay these 
threats.
  In 1994, the United States, along with Ukraine and Russia, signed the 
Budapest memorandum. In that agreement, all sides agreed to respect 
Ukraine's territorial sovereignty if Ukraine returned the nuclear 
weapons it inherited after the fall of the Soviet empire. We gave our 
guarantee to protect Ukraine's borders, a guarantee that we clearly did 
not keep.
  What kind of message is the United States sending to the world again?
  You can bet that Rouhani and Khamenei are sitting in Iran, and they 
are paying very close attention, Mr. Speaker. They are making the 
calculations right now, and they are betting that perhaps they will 
face no repercussions if they abandoned the negotiations and actively 
and openly pursue nuclear weapons.
  President Obama's lack of leadership and strength has shown that the 
umbrella of U.S. security that so many have relied upon is not as wide 
nor as durable as they once thought.
  The House and the Senate have acted to pass sanctions legislation 
against Putin over his actions in Crimea, but it is clear that Putin is 
not going to be deterred by this.
  It may be a case of too little, too late because the administration 
failed to take decisive action from the get-go, just like it had in 
Iran and Syria before this and just like it is now failing to do in 
Venezuela.
  While Obama threatens consequences for Putin over his Crimea 
provocations--and fails to act on these words--he hasn't even mustered 
up the fortitude to even feign strong condemnations for Maduro and his 
thugs in Venezuela, as they continue to brutally oppress the opposition 
in Venezuela, the opposition that is calling for reforms and democracy.
  Mr. Speaker, I have here a poster of Maria Corina Machado, a valiant 
human rights leader in Venezuela, and she is just one of the many 
victims of Maduro's thuggery.
  There have been 30 people killed as a result of Maduro's violent 
attempts to oppress dissent, while opposition leaders like Leopoldo 
Lopez have been unjustly detained over a month now in military prison, 
and Maria Corina Machado has been stripped of her seat in the national 
assembly, thus revoking her immunity, her protection, suggesting that 
Maduro and his goons will soon be coming to take her away to a military 
prison.
  Yet again, President Obama chooses to lead from behind. The 
administration has repeatedly said that we need to work with the 
Organization of American States to hold Maduro accountable, but that 
body is even more afraid to call out Maduro than this administration.
  Mr. Speaker, 5 years of failed foreign policy from this 
administration is really coming home to roost, and that means dire 
consequences for the American people, for the people of Venezuela, for 
the people of Ukraine, and for freedom-seeking people throughout the 
world.
  It is time for the administration to take an active role in foreign 
policy for the sake of American national security and for the sake of 
the future of democracy. It is time to quit this leading from behind. 
It is time to restore American leadership, and that is the only way to 
make the world a safer place.

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