Random observations about Ukraine.
I talked to a number of people both from the right and the left about events in Ukraine today. These conversations made me remember how much I admired Scoop Jackson and Hubert Humphrey.
Below are my thoughts.
The problem and the Russian motivation in Ukraine have more to do with corruption than geopolitics. See the link below on this point.
Given this level of corruption I am not confident that western aid will be effective.
Economic sanctions are a much more rational response to this situation than military action. Moreover, I suspect that neither Republican nor Democratic voters would support military action in Ukraine. The case for a military response was much stronger in Syria than in Ukraine.
(I suspect our inaction in Syria has emboldened Putin in Ukraine. There is a need for more research on the Syrian decision. Did Obama intentionally set up a situation where Congress would put the breaks on a Syrian intervention or did he miscalculate support in Congress?)
The economic sanctions (penalties on people in Putin's inner circle) that have been put in place so far will have no effect.
A more serious response would involve kicking Russia out of the WTO or bringing economic sanctions against Russia inside the WTO.
Interestingly, it is Russia that is now threatening to bring legal action against the United States over Crimea sanctions.
The Russians are basically asking an international organization to override U.S. policy similar to the way this organization forces changes to U.S. Laws on the environment, on gambling and on health.
Had the WTO existed in the cold wars the Jackson-Vanik amendment would have been defeated.
Most of official official Washington believes that trade agreements trump all other laws. Does this belief hold water when a country is using its military to invade, coerce, and steal from its neighbors.
The Blame-America-First crowd argues that Putin is simply creating his own sphere of influences or his own Monroe doctrine. BULLSHIT!!!!!!!!!!
Some similarities exist but there are major differences between Putin's actions now and America's actions past and present.
In the past when the U.S. Intervened in Latin Americas there was substantial debate and discussion over the wisdom of this course of action. In Putin's Russia there is no similar debate.
Today many Latin American Democracies vigorously oppose the United State. Many of our Latin American neighbors have closer relations to Europe and to Asia than to the United States. This is not the case for many of Russia's neighbors.
See these recent news article on events in Venezuela and compare to Ukraine.
Concluding Thoughts: The time for quiet negotiations urging Russian restraint has passed. The Russians claim our Crimean sanctions are a violation of the WTO. In a sense they are correct. Trade with Russia through the WTO or otherwise facilitates invasion, theft, and corruption. It is time for President Obama to articulate and act on American not corporate values.