Ok, everybody keeps asking me about it. I didn’t want to answer because my gut was bad. Not in a way I detangle until now.
We keep accusing Russia of “20th century thinking” however I think we are actually guilty of this right now. We are in a very bad conundrum partially of our own making and partly because of the sneakiness of the Putin administration. It’s hard to trust a guy who denies sending in troops when it’s clear the troops are Russian. The soldiers have admitted as much to reporters. Put that together with attacking journalists and one can’t help but figure motivations to be dark.
Here’s the problem as I see it: we have no moral authority after what we did in our “preemptive war” with Iraq. We broke international treaties and did not hold our leaders to account for their war crimes. Although we went to NATO before hand – very few nations supported our invasion of a sovereign nation and now we are stuck telling the Russians they cannot take back a piece of their historical land because a minority population is against it – hard argument to win when we have all that baggage. Especially since 60% of Crimea is actually Russian and don’t want to be part of the Ukraine due to its negotiations regarding European Union status.
The argument we have made about sticking to constitutional rules and the problems with changing boarders etc. is a difficult if not impossible one to win considering the context. Eastern Europe has had constantly fluctuating boarders for countless generations. For example my father’s family came from what is now Lithuania but was Russia when my grandfather came over and had been Belarus at different points.
The “off ramp” Obama should have set up was for us. We should stand behind democracy no matter what. 60% is a clear majority (unlike our 2000 election) and just because one doesn’t like the majority opinion doesn’t mean one can abandon the democratic process.
Yes this is a coup of sorts but it is a civil issue for them – none of our business. We had a civil war here and civil wars are happening all over the world – most are bloody and lots of people die. So far there has been restraint. If this continues and the people of Crimea genuinely want to join the Russian federation then we have to honor that wish even if we don’t like it. But we’ve been backed into a corner here by our own rhetoric. Obama will look weak – according to Republicans he already does. He’s now bound by his first response which was understandably worried and disturbed by Russia’s move. Now however it seems that neighboring Western European countries are taking a hands off approach further boxing us to a course that was set too early.
If we go forward with our plan to cut off the US supply of natural gas to Russia it will piss off the Europeans as they are dependent on Russia and Russia will be forced to save their resources for themselves.
The most important goal here should be maintaining peace and supporting a Democratic process. We are again standing alone when we should allow the Europeans to set policy with their neighbor. All we are going to do is engender ill will and nothing will come of these lame sanctions – they will DO nothing but piss everyone off. We are playing the roll of Big Daddy Cop – a very 20th century roll. Until Russia does something everyone can agree is worthy of a real response we are ineffective. This does not mean the aggression used by Russia is OK. But at least they didn’t kill hundreds of thousands of civilians in order to free them. They aren’t guilty of torture from what we know and until we can clean our palate of the terrible taste of our own government corruption we have no business playing cop especially when the majority of the citizens of that country have spoken.
I realize that things are more complicated then all this but we have to find a way off this road. We can’t effect change this way.
Intuitively I get a very bad feeling about all of this and have since day one. I feel this is a piece of something much larger that could lead to a much bigger war however this tactic is only going to exacerbate the problem.
Problem is we’ve already taken this course and the US can never turn tail. We have to play the strong empire. I have a terrible feeling we are looking at another layer of seeding discontent with more people of the world. We have enough enemies. Time will come when hubris will no longer be something we can afford to have. Obama should know better. I don’t think we should be playing the WWII role of Cop anymore. We need to take our guns off the table and settle down. We are one world intertwined – would we want Russia to tell is we couldn’t make Puerto Rico a state if 60% of their population wanted that? I know it’s a clumsy metaphor but we just don’t have anything to stand on here except a bad feeling. Putin is very beloved in Russia. No one else wants to intervene – so what is the point of this?
If things escalate with Putin (and my initial feeling was they would) that will be the time to take action. We can stand with the rest of the world but we’re almost impotent here. All we stand to gain is displeasure.