President Obama is being excoriated by the neocons for “causing” or “not preventing” the Russian incursion into Crimea. There are both wrong and stupid.
A little history first. Remember the cold war? Do you know why we “won?” Simply put the “war” was the U.S. and our allies on one side against the U.S.S.R. (aka “Russia plus a few satellite states” and its allies). we “won” because our allies were a source of support and power to us and the U.S.S.R.’s allies were an almost total drain on them. Think of Cuba as one of their allies, a huge drain on their resources. And while Cuba wasn’t typical, it was a lot closer to the norm than many are willing to admit.
So, Russian President Putin has stormed into the Crimean peninsula to protect the largely Russian population there from a pro-west government of Ukraine which has made its anti-Russian sentiments known. Fine, Crimea was a Russian province until 1953 when Khrushchev (a Ukrainian native) deeded it over to Ukraine. What this actually means is a large number of pro-Russian voters has been removed from Ukraine, making it more likely for it to vote to join Europe. Also, Crimea depends upon Ukraine for its essential services which Russia will now have to underwrite.
The mistake Russia is making is that the old geopolitics has failed. Having buffer states to protect against massed tank-led invasions isn’t really needed anymore. Looking at Ukraine as an entre into the E.U. would have been better, harder to pull off, but better. Of course it would require additional westernization of Russia and greater expectations of having a government that is less oppressive, but it would have been on the right side of history.
So, if Russia pulls this off and annexes Crimea it will have, again, added a very weak ally to its sphere and pushed a stronger ally, Ukraine, away.
Russia is not solely to blame here. It tried to work with the West, slowly and more along lines they could accept, but those pushing and pulling for modernization created a pace they could not follow. This may eventually be to everyone’s detriment if Russia continues to isolate itself behind a wall of weak satellite states.
Our focus should be on the American poor, the American middle-class, and, what was that phrase the Republicans use so much, of yeah, “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs.”