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How should the U.S. react to Russia's involvement with Ukraine?
March 1, 2014 - Andrea Johnson
I can't figure out what the heck is going on in Ukraine but I do know that I don't think it would be a good idea for the U.S. to stage a military intervention.
There are only so many places in the world where the United States can play policeman. After going on 13 years at war in the Middle East and military men and women who have done two or three or more tours of duty in the hot desert sun, their enthusiasm for another fight is probably lukewarm at best.
Sen. John McCain, a former Republican presidential candidate, said "We are all Ukrainians" in response to news that Russia has invaded the Crimea, a largely pro-Russian part of the Ukraine. For all that I sympathize with people who want their freedom, I'm not sure whether this is the case in Ukraine, nor am I sure about the nature of the people who have ousted the president there. To McCain's statement, I have to shake my head and say, "No, Senator, we are all Americans and our interests are not necessarily those of the Ukrainians."
Time reports that McCain is calling for "swift U.S. economic aid to Ukraine, condemnation of Russia at the United Nations, sanctions against Russian officials and the installation of U.S. missiles in the nearby Czech Republic" and doesn't foresee armed conflict, though I imagine that's a response he'd keep in reserve. McCain's preferred response would seem to be a great way to lead us back into the Cold War with Russia, which might be inevitable but is something we should still try to avoid if at all possible.
Based on my admittedly modest knowledge of current affairs and of Russian history, I think McCain's analysis of the situation is probably quite accurate and Russian leader Vladimir Putin is indeed seizing this opportunity to expand Russian's empire. Ukraine was once part of the former Soviet Union and I imagine Russians continue to have a great deal of wounded pride over the diminishment of their role on the world stage and their loss of Ukraine and the other Soviet Republics.
Putin, who is ex-KGB, is so popular with Russians in large part because the Russian people have historically liked and respected very strong leaders and because they want more prestige. Putin divorced his long time wife and has a glamorous, younger girlfriend. Pictures of his outdoor activities and his rugged lifestyle appear in magazines. He even has a certain fanbase among some conservatives in the United States. Putin has also made a show of standing up to the U.S. in the last year. He defied the U.S. by refusing to hand over leaker Edward Snowden; he banned U.S. parents from adopting Russian children and pushed through legislation that makes it a crime for gays in Russia to promote homosexuality to minors. He also headed up a largely successful Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
So how do you deal with a problem like Vladimir Putin? How do you think the United States should respond to Russia's military involvement in Ukraine?
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