What happens in a far off and unfamiliar country matters and it's time that President Obama reassert American moral authority after the debacles in Syria, Libya and Egypt. The Ukrainian people have, for the third time in twenty years, rejected Soviet and Russian dominance and interference in their affairs - and it's time the US play a more active role where it can to promote democratic movements.
|If the Ukraine succeeds, he loses|
All I've heard since the Ukrainian crisis began is that "the US can do very little in this region." It comes from both the Left and the Right for different reasons. The former wants a less activist foreign policy that may get us mixed up in a hot war, and the latter for more selfish political reasons: to continue to make the current White House look weak and ineffective at all levels in an election year. As Americans we have to reject a kind of neo-isolationist tilt reminiscent of the post-Vietnam era, for as we know - as well as most around the world - when their is a vacuum of power, someone will try and fill it. So far it's been Russia's President Vladimir Putin who has benefited from American insularism.
It is easy to point fingers at who is to blame for Ukraine's situation and the reasons for Russian assertiveness...there is plenty of blame to go around: from the Bush era naivete of Putin's motives to Obama's single-minded attention to his domestic agenda. The international policy of the current White House is unclear except for one point: to draw down our military in the Middle East and realign our defense posture to support our trading interests in the Pacific to check the Chinese. But as the only superpower left with the capability to build international coalitions, our responsibilities can't easily be forgotten in other regions - especially Europe, where every major conflict of the past two centuries seems to start.
We must fight the urge to look inward and realize that our way of life depends on promoting our values around the world. If we do not stand up for those trying to emulate our system of government which is based on human rights, tolerance and respect for the integrity of internationally recognized borders, then we deserve the world that others will create for us through brute force.
|Peace at the point of a gun never works|
Putin's actions emulate the worst in history, manipulating his people to serve his private ends and the financial gain of his supporters. A free democratic Ukraine at the border of Russia portends a true end to the remnants of Soviet-era tyranny and the kleptocracy that grew around his rise to power, and maintains his neo-fascist regime seeking to rebuild Russian hegemony in eastern Europe and central Asia.
What we can do: surely, we cannot think of a hot-war now when there are many tools to punish Russia that can easily be directed at the heart of the Putin regime - gaining control over Russian financial assets and an embargo on Russian energy exports. Diplomatically, Obama can essentially end the G8 conference in Sochi by refusing to participate. Yes, it's four months away, but it's a shot across the bow showing our determination and solidarity with the aspirations of the Ukrainian people. Then there is a simple repositioning of our global military presence to ensure the current crisis does not extend beyond the region - what we think is not in our national interest will easily become one, once tanks are poised on the Polish border, or worse - refugee camps from a civil war in a country of ~40 million people.
|Tyranny's answer to democracy|
Mr. Obama needs to act fast as this Hitler-like strategy of invading surrounding states on the basis of "protecting the rights of ethnic Russians" must stop here. No more lines in the sand. We may find that this may help with other movements-gone-awry in the Middle East. Maybe not, but Putin MUST know that there is a limit and he has reached it.
The Ukrainians have paid for their territorial sovereignty by giving up nuclear weapons in a treaty signed by the UK, the US, Russia and Ukraine in the 1990s after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. While the Ukraine was not allowed to be a partner in NATO, this treaty must have some kind of enforcement - someone needs to stand up with them and for them. If not us, who else? Are we up to the task? Our ancestors are watching. It's time to come together as Americans, imperfect as we are, to show the world we have not forgotten how to lead and stand for the underdogs. There are no ambiguous groups here - the opposition represents everything the West wants in a new democracy. We can't leave them in the cold.
|We are "mutts", not "mongrels"; standing for the underdog|