While I agree it is a mistake to swoon over Putin's actions, the notion that our policy is Eisenhower-like is nonsense:
It’s true that it has been a quarter-century since Moscow has been so interventionist outside its borders. The last time it made these kinds of moves, in the late 1970s and 1980s, it invaded Afghanistan and interfered in several other countries as well. Back then, commentators similarly hailed those actions as signs that Moscow was winning the Cold War. How did that work out for the Soviet Union? ...
The 1950s abounded with what seem in retrospect deeply dangerous proposals designed to demonstrate U.S. vigor ...
In the midst of this clamor for action, one man, President Dwight Eisenhower, kept his cool, even though it sank his poll numbers. (The Kennedy/Johnson administration ended the passivity, notably in Cuba and Vietnam, with disastrous results.) I believe that decades from now, we will be glad that Barack Obama chose Eisenhower’s path to global power and not Putin’s.
One, resisting Putin is not the same as Putin's militarized path to conquest and power. What kind of equivalence nonsense is that?
But at least Zakaria admits Putin is striving for world power.
Zakaria conflates Eisenhower's refusal to act directly against the far weaker Soviet Union in the 1950s (Ike knew there was no "missile gap" showing nuclear inferiority) with the USSR's failure by the end of the 1980s that was facilitated not by Eisenhower-like "passivity" but by Reagan's vigorous action to actively defeat Soviet aggression and defeat the Soviet Union itself.
Eisenhower also had the reputation of having led the West into battle in Europe in World War II. No Russian leader could discount that.
Our enemies now have to worry about a president who organized communities rather than a global coalition to liberate western Europe from Nazi and Fascist control.
And remember that Eisenhower had massive nuclear superiority over Moscow yet still increased military spending and even maintained a modernized Army of 15 divisions and 900,000 troops in the active forces (1958).
We're scheduled for ten division equivalents with 450,000 troops with the possibility of going down to 8 divisions if the Army is cut to 420,000 because of further budget reductions.
Zakaria is simply trying to paint inaction as a winning strategy. I do not believe Russian weaknesses are an excuse to do nothing, counting on Russia to fail on their own.
Russian weaknesses are a reason to do something to keep them from winning by picking on even weaker opponents.
Stop swooning over Putin? Stop swooning over our current president. Or at least get a room.