Let’s start with what Condi Rice does really, really well–she’s a dandy pianist. She is no bimbo and certainly has book smarts. But as a strategic thinker she’s a dud. As a Soviet Expert? Grossly overrated.

I am ignoring the kerfuffle between Condi and the Rutgers faculty over the University’s invite to feature her as their commencement speaker. I side with the faculty–why honor Rice who, as the National Security Advisor to George W. Bush, backed the invasion of Iraq under false pretenses and, more importantly, weakened U.S. influence in the Middle East and paved the way for Iran to spread its power and influence. Just patting her on her nappy head and congratulating her for being the first black female to serve as the NSC Advisor and as the Secretary of State smacks of paternalism and racism.

What the hell difference does the color of her skin have to do with the stupid decisions she made at the NSC and at State? Conservatives are up in arms over the effort of the Rutgers faculty and insist this is racism directed at an Aunt Jemima who loves to dance at the white Republican Plantation. Not in this case (this is different from the hate spewed at the likes of Ben Carson and Clarence Thomas). Conservatives need to admit they are just as guilty as the Libs when it comes to playing the minority card in the credibility game. In this case, conservatives are willing to overlook incompetence just because Condi is black.

Anyway, back to Condi’s latest op-ed, Will America Heed the Wake up Call of Ukraine?

The “Ukrainian problem” has been brewing for some time between the West and Russia. Since Ukraine’s Orange Revolution, the United States and Europe have tried to convince Russia that the vast territory should not be a pawn in a great-power conflict but rather an independent nation that could chart its own course. Putin has never seen it that way. For him, Kiev’s movement toward the West is an affront to Russia in a zero-sum game for the loyalty of former territories of the empire. The invasion and possible annexation of Crimea on trumped-up concerns for its Russian-speaking population is his answer to us.

The immediate concern must be to show Russia that further moves will not be tolerated and that Ukraine’s territorial integrity is sacrosanct. Diplomatic isolation, asset freezes and travel bans against oligarchs are appropriate. The announcement of air defense exercises with the Baltic states and the movement of a U.S. destroyer to the Black Sea bolster our allies, as does economic help for Ukraine’s embattled leaders, who must put aside their internal divisions and govern their country.

The longer-term task is to answer Putin’s statement about Europe’s post-Cold War future. He is saying that Ukraine will never be free to make its own choices — a message meant to reverberate in Eastern Europe and the Baltic states — and that Russia has special interests it will pursue at all costs. For Putin, the Cold War ended “tragically.” He will turn the clock back as far as intimidation through military power, economic leverage and Western inaction will allow.

Condi might have some credibiltiy on this matter if she had demonstrated equal concern about the “territorial integrity” of Iraq. She provides a stark, unsparing example of chutzpah–decryng Russia for the,”possible annexation of Crimea on trumped-up concerns.” This from the lady who helpd fashion a bogus, false premise for invading Iraq. Unlike Russia’s effort in the Crimea, the United States misadventure in Iraq left tens of thousands dead, hundreds of thousands wounded and impoverished, and the balance of power in the Middle East up-ended.

How can a smart lady like Condi be so dumb? She is desperate to revive the specter of Russia as the Communist International, hell bent on Global domination. That was bullshit during the Cold War and is really delusional when it comes to Putin. We are so obsessed with what others are doing that we fail to look in the mirror and take a good look at ourselves. Putin, for better or worse, is pursuing a national interest of Russia. Keeping Russia secure and ensuring that the countries on its immediate border are friendly is not the act of a madman nor a tyrant. It is called sane.

Can you imagine what our reaction would be were the Russians to move directly to unseat governments in Canada or Mexico and replace them with leaders that are friendly to Moscow? Do you really think that Condi and the other Cold War dinosaurs would sit back and insist that we would have no right to “interfere” in the internal affairs of either Canada or Mexico?

Our record of international interference is lengthy and bloody. Hell, we continue to insist that we have the right to run drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia because we face a terrorist threat. You see? As long as we can use the excuse of terrorism and pander to fear then we can justify anything.

Perhaps Condi is just miffed that Putin is acting like us. What do you think?

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Larry C. Johnson is a former analyst at the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, who moved subsequently in 1989 to the U.S. Department of State, where he served four years as the deputy director for transportation security, antiterrorism assistance training, and special operations in the State Department's Office of Counterterrorism. He left government service in October 1993 and set up a consulting business. He currently is the co-owner and CEO of BERG Associates, LLC (Business Exposure Reduction Group) and is an expert in the fields of terrorism, aviation security, and crisis and risk management, and money laundering investigations. Johnson is the founder and main author of No Quarter, a weblog that addresses issues of terrorism and intelligence and politics. NoQuarterUSA was nominated as Best Political Blog of 2008.