Why Putin Will Get Everything He Wants in CrimeaPosted: March 11, 2014
Not strictly speaking arms control law related – though obviously everything is interconnected – my dad apprised me of an article that I do think pretty well sums up the international relations situation relative to Russia’s activity in Crimea. See it here.
My favorite quote from the article, which I think is spot on in its assessment, is this:
When it comes down to it, the few diplomatic carrots that the West is willing to offer or withhold from Russia have only as much value as Putin is willing to assign them. His ability to not give a shit exceeds the West’s capacity to do anything he gives a shit about. The fact is that Russia cares a lot more about Crimea than anybody else does — except for Ukraine.
I’ve thought from the beginning that there are very few levers that the US and the West realistically can pull, and even fewer that they prudentially should pull, to influence Russia on these facts. It’s for this reason that I have thought from the beginning that the US and the West should mostly stay out of this situation. There is no genocide or other mass violation of human rights occurring that might morally demand our involvement. This is just a power play by a state that, in that region, is by far the most powerful actor. It is indeed the 2008 Georgia situation all over again. Like then, we have known from the start that we will not choose to match power with power on the ground in order to deter Russia from doing what it wants. And as the article points out, having a working relationship with Russia is too important to too many other things that we might actually, realistically accomplish for good in the world, to risk weakening it on this issue.
As I’ve said before, prudent and effective foreign policy requires knowing what cards you have to play, and playing them in the smartest way possible. Overplaying your hand is a mark of bad foreign policy, and is something that the US does not infrequently.
(* * Just a quick disclaimer to say that my approval of the main thrust of this article does not extend to its description of the details of the Iran situation * *)