Our repeated warnings were unsuccessful at stopping Russia from invading Crimea or sending its military into eastern Ukraine just short of a traditional invasion. This episode follows vanishing “red lines” and “lines in the sand” in Syria. The pattern of passivity comes hard on the heals of our semi-involvement in Libya where we “led from behind”.
There is concern in several quarters that we are forfeiting our vital, albeit reluctant, role as the world’s policeman resulting in unleashing of evil forces we are only now beginning to understand.
There is now an agreement of sorts in Ukraine although unrest persists in the East. And Crimea is still lost. This is another of Putin’s clever successes just like Syria. After stirring up trouble, he uses our obsession to negotiate, even to take a bad deal, rather than doing the right thing by taking a strong stand. It’s a tactic Chamberlain succumbed to in the 1930s in Europe. What future humiliations does Mr. Putin have in store for us? In both cases – in the 1930s and today – we failed to see what was happening. Or, maybe we’re so wedded to our current worldview we’re frozen in place unable to take the required action.
Despite what we’re told, there are viable alternatives today such as those offered by James Jeffrey (and many others) , a former Obama administration ambassador, in the Washington Post. His suggestion is to send U.S. and NATO troops into Ukraine to show Putin that there are limits of his aggression.
Anne Applebaum, a noted Eastern European expert and Washington Post columnist who lives in Warsaw with her husband (Poland’s Foreign Minister) and her two children, suggests we’re in for a long struggle with Russia waging a new kind of warfare We need to realize that soon, understand it and make changes necessary to deal with it. This recent agreement, if it holds, is just another tactic in a broader struggle that has implications far beyond Ukraine.
The articles referred to above make the argument far better than I.