Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol said Friday on The Steve Malzberg Show that President Obama merely slapped Russian president Vladimir Putin on the wrist for the Malyasian plane tragedy but was "finger-wagging" at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over civilian casualties in Gaza.
Kristol and Malzberg agreed that Obama seemed to lay the blame in his news conference Friday for the plane attack at Putin's doorstep, given the likelihood pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine used a sophisticated weapon provided by the Russians. However, whether Putin would really "pay a price" wasn't made clear.
"If you were Putin watching that, you got a little bit of a slap on the wrist," he said. "You didn't really get a sense that you were supposed to get out of Ukraine or stop providing these weapons to the separatists immediately or there'd be consequences, or tell the separatists at the very least you can't be shooting at airplanes … I would say it looks like it's heading for a slap on the wrist, lot of international consultations and then will Putin really pay a price? I'm a little doubtful."
The Russian aspect of Obama's foreign policy, he added, was one of the most embarrassing for the administration that also tied in former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her failed reset.
Obama also spoke with Netanyahu Friday and said he expressed concern about Gaza as Israel continues to defend itself against the terrorist group Hamas and its rocket attacks against Israeli civilians, telling reporters he hoped the Jewish state would approach the process in a way that minimizes civilian casualties.
Kristol ripped Obama for his "moral preening" on the issue, given Israel's well-documented code of conduct in warfare and warnings given to Gaza civilians before conducting strikes. In addition, Hamas has a policy of using human shields and hiding rockets in civilian areas.
"Think about what it implies that he's nagging and finger-wagging at the Israelis about civilian casualties," Kristol said. "Does he really seriously think the Israeli military doesn't care about civilian casualties? That they don't have the most elaborate code of conduct in war of any military, maybe even more elaborate than ours, to try to prevent civilian casualties in very difficult situations? Do they really need a lecture from Barack Obama about how to fight humanely? That's what's so annoying about this."