Wednesday, 5 March 2014

What Obama Should Do About Ukraine

by Sam Collings-Wells

Obama and Putin
(Wiki commons)
The news that Putin convened the upper House of the Russian parliament sent shockwaves throughout the world. The swift movement of Russian troops into the Crimea, the blockade of highways leading into the province and the taking over of major airports sent a clear sign of Putin's aggressive intentions. Obama should act quickly and decisively, and encourage the rest of Europe to punch back hard at Russias irresponsible actions.

Barack Obamas reputation on the international stage is in tatters. His bungling of almost every foreign policy during his tenure has shown him to be both weak and indecisive. In Syria, when Assad used chemical weapons against his own people, he knowingly crossed the ominous red line drawn by Obama. Assad guessed right, calling Obamas bluff and the administration did nothing.

If a rogue dictator in Syria does not find an explicit threat from America frightening, then why should Vladamir Putin respond with anything but indifference to Obamas chest-puffing? In the aftermath of the Maidan Revolution, the US publicly warned Russia against any military intervention. Yet, a few days later, Putin still waltzed into the Crimea. Putin was presumably confident that the West would respond in a similar way to his invasion of Georgia in 2008, with strong statements of disapproval but not a lot else.

This time, Obama should respond with economic sanctions on Putin's Russia. Inevitably, there will be those that argue that this will foster the Western discontent that Putins Presidency so thrives upon. Then again, William Hague, asserting that Russia has caused the worst crisis in the Europe in the 21st Century, and Obamas threat that there will be costs largely do the same thing and are probably being greedily lapped up by pro-Russian media outlets as examples of Western antagonism.

Opponents of economic sanctions, or any action at all, will also point towards the 25% of the EUs gas that comes from Russia. To this criticism I would say that Russias woefully unbalanced economy means that they are just as reliant on the revenues from EU gas purchases as the EU is on Russian gas. Furthermore, America is undergoing a Fracking revolution, unlocking vast reserves of natural gas. If America relax their overly protectionist oil export laws, it could potentially reduce the diplomatic leverage that Russia has as a result of their energy reserves, leading to a profound re-alignment in global diplomacy.
Putin clearly, and probably correctly, predicts that Barack Obamas diplomacy is all talk and no action. I agree with Putin; Obama will bottle it, Germany are already reeling, and an incompetent aide this week spelled outCamerons lack of enthusiasm for doing anything significant. Obama should prove me and Putin wrong, and bring the rest of the West with him. This is not an open-ended war on terror, in a region in the Middle East Washington knows nothing about. This is a clear violation of another country's sovereignty, with Russia trying to take advantage of an unstable situation in Ukraine. Obama should send a clear message.This time, America should not let Putin get away with it.




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