The United States is a day late and a dollar short, again. Without firing a shot, Russia has created the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. This Ukraine business is a significant strategic loss for the West and other lovers of freedom.
The best the United States, and NATO allies will be able to do is impose sanctions and, maybe, kick Russia out of the G8. Does not sound like much. It is not. However, they need to respond as forcefully as possible because Russia is just warming up.
Did the Obama Administration really not see any of this coming? Was it an intelligence or diplomatic failure? Judging from what Kerry said yesterday on Twitter, a little of both:
We’re going to continue to engage diplomatically. It’s the time for diplomacy. Nobody wants this to spiral in a worse direction. — John Kerry (@JohnKerry) March 2, 2014
Here is the kicker:
Preceded by this gem:
I’m old enough to remember the Cold War and what
the Soviet Union Russia is capable of doing when it wants to do so. You can call it Russia, but these people, at heart, are still Leninists and, to a certain degree, Stalinists. They are most assuredly anti-Americans. Some of Putin’s inner circle are still upset about the Cold War’s ending and the humiliation that came with it.
Georgia in 2008. Libya. Increasing its presence in Cuba. Aiding and abetting Snowden. Human rights abuses. It’s soft war in the Baltic region (just ask any of the region’s Ambassadors, they’ve been trying to warn DC for years). And a lot more. Now, the Crimea. They’re just getting started.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rodgers (R-Mich.) said on Fox News yesterday that Putin is “playing chess, we’re playing marbles.” Indeed. However, Chairman Rodgers was being diplomatic. It seems more like hopscotch to me.
Russia, and other powers determined to challenge the United States, are doing these things because the Obama Administration is weak. It has no vision for Europe or Eurasia, in this case. The same holds true for other parts of the world. A globalist, UN-first agenda is not a foreign policy or national security strategy for a great power. It’s a cop out. The Obama-Kerry national security team needs to abandon the (Hillary) Clinton foreign policy model. It does not work.
The U.S. response in the Ukraine matter likely involve some form of economic sanctions (enforcing and expanding the Magnitsky list would be a good place to start) and other related measures. It’s a good place to start, but nowhere near what is needed. Russia will not stop in the Crimea. A poor response from the U.S. and other powers will put places such as the Baltics at risk.
Economic sanctions are more of a preventive measure that, when used in conjunction with other tools, can exact behavior changes. Using them after the fact, especially when an opposing party is using tanks and guns tends to not be a very effective strategy. Over the long-term a more fixed and focused effort is needed, one that better calibrates what the Russians are up to these days.
Is this a mini-Cold War or a new Cold War? I don’t think so. This is the new order of things. Which when you look back at the history of the nation-states, it is not all that “new” really. Technology and wide-spread availability of communication tools, however, have added a new dimension to it all. And, if the U.S. fails to understand its power and capitalize on it, it is us who will be on the “wrong side of history.”