The Crimean Crisis

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As readers of this journal may remember, I am not an isolationist, if “isolationist” be defined as “one who deems it immoral for the United States to use force across its borders”; but I am an isolationist if the word be defined as “one who thinks the United States should mind its own business.” To my mind, the Crimean crisis is a classic instance of a conflict about which the United States should do just that.

I am at least a mild supporter of the Ukrainian revolution, as I understand it. And I have little or no use for Vladimir Putin, as I understand him. I can understand why Ukrainian-speaking Ukrainians would like to hang on to the Crimea. But I can also understand why Putin would like to get it away from them (as he virtually has, right now). It’s the location of a Russian fleet. The majority of its population speaks Russian, is Russian, and resents attempts of Ukrainian nationalists to make them speak and be Ukrainian. The Russians presumably know what can happen to dissenting nationalities when even the most “liberal” revolution heats up. And after all, the Crimea is part of Ukraine only because the old Soviet dictatorship, in an idle moment, gave it to Ukraine.

There are some reasons why the United States should not want Russia to annex the Crimea. It’s generally best for us when the Russians have an unstable base, such as Ukraine, for their military power. Even the least legitimate borders are often better than no borders at all, so it would generally be better if nationalists of every kind thought it was futile to try rearranging them. And it would be unfortunate to see a guy like Putin win.

This does not add up to a reason for us to “get tough” with Putin. It would be almost impossible to do so anyway, and expect any degree of success. President Obama may draw “lines in the sand,” but no one in the world believes what he says, even if it’s accidentally true.

So this is a good time for us to enjoy our isolationist traditions to the full. Bad things may happen; bad things undoubtedly are happening. This is to be expected wherever 19th-century European nationalism rears its head again. But that is, and must be, their problem.




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Comments

Visitor

The Russian wanted Afghanistan, but we wanted it more. They now want the Ukraine. Maybe some American politicians want it more. Perhaps we'd like Pakistan or Cuba. What this country needs is another war.

Johnimo

Why am I the only one online to see a very simple way to pressure Putin into doing the right thing. They (the Russians) have a ship in Havana Harbor. It's a perfect setup, but with an impotent US President no exploitation of this situation is possible.

I believe it's highly likely that Putin cruised the vessel into Cuba to see what the western press would do. They did and said NOTHING. Seize the damned thing and embarrass Putin into doing what's right. We don't have to go there, the bear came to us and we're too stupid to take any action. There are no missiles in Cuba, we're not risking nuclear war. Just announce we will seize the ship if Putin doesn't stay out of Ukraine. Let him keep the base in Crimea but make him back down from a further incursion without paying a PR penalty. The Russian sailors will have a ball on shore leave meanwhile. It's a win - win for all.

Fred Mora

Bad solution. The value of a ship doesn't compare with the value of owning Crimea.

Besides, if the US legitimizes piracy, it will have more to lose than Russia at this game.

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