While reserving a semblance of praise for President Barack Obama’s response to the Russian incursion in the Crimean peninsula, Real Time host Bill Maher and his panel clashed over whether the U.S. should be responding to it at all.
“Can’t we ever sit out a dance?” Maher asked his guests. “It’s a family matter.”
PBS host Simon Schama pointed out that the U.S., Russia and Great Britain reached an agreement in 1994 stating that the three nations would agree to respect Ukrainian sovereignty if the country scuttled its nuclear arsenal.
“That has been completely blown away,” Schama said, arguing that to do nothing would render treaties pointless.
“Let’s get real,” Maher responded. “This place, Crimea, is full of Russians.”
“Fifty-eight percent,” Schama countered. “That’s really different.”
“I thought we were the election people,” Maher said, alluding to the Crimean referendum supporting becoming part of Russia. “I thought we were the people who wanted everyone to have their freedom to say where they wanted to be.”
“We’re not the election people when guns are being pointed at their heads,” Schama responded.
“But they didn’t have to point guns at their head,” Maher countered. “This is like Hitler went into Austria. The story was, he took over Austria; they welcomed him like a hero.”
“The Crimean Tatars are not only not welcoming the Russians,” Schama pressed on. “We have seen, this week, I guarantee, the beginning of Tatar jihad.”
“Okay, well, life sucks for a Tatar,” Maher answered.
However, Maher also mocked GOP lawmakers for talking tough against Obama, themselves, pointing out that his steps thus far — economic sanctions, not committing to armed conflict, and rallying international support — haven’t seemed out of place.
“If he wasn’t always bowing to other foreign leaders and going on ‘apology tours,’ and not starting all those wars he totally could have started, they would respect us,” Maher said. “It’s a very fun way to look at the world, to ignore all the decades of real history and blame everything on Obama.”
Watch the discussion, as posted online on Friday, below.