Condoleezza Rice: Ukraine Must Be Our 'Wake-Up Call' US has to lead again, instead of looking 'exhausted and disinterested' By John Johnson, Newser Staff Posted Mar 8, 2014 11:29 AM CST 46 comments Comments A Ukrainian officer stands outside the gate of a military base at the Black Sea port of Sevastopol in Crimea, Ukraine, Saturday. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic) (Newser) – Vladimir Putin hates how the Cold War ended, and he's trying to "turn back the clock" as far he can, writes former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in the Washington Post. Which is why it's essential that the US toughen up, she argues. Rice offers a mix of short- and long-term fixes for the Ukraine situation—everything from asset freezes, to travel restrictions on oligarchs, to reaching out to Russian youth studying in the US—but she's more worried about what she sees as America's increasingly passive role in the international community. The Obama White House thought it "could step back, lower its voice about democracy and human rights and let others lead," only to see the void filled by extremists such as al-Qaeda and leaders such as Bashar al-Assad and Putin. Others are getting aggressive not out of a need to "balance American power," but out of a desire to exploit our "exhausted and disinterested" foreign policy. "The events in Ukraine should be a wake-up call to those on both sides of the aisle who believe that the United States should eschew the responsibilities of leadership," writes Rice. "If it is not heeded, dictators and extremists across the globe will be emboldened." Click for her full column. Or here for Henry Kissinger's thoughts on Ukraine.