Sunday, March 2, 2014

The World Gets Dangerous

You can't say we weren't warned that Vladimir Putin might try to flex some muscles in Ukraine. After all, the Olympics are over, there were no terrorist attacks, Russia won the most medals, and Viktor Yanukovych turned out to be better suited for the summer games, beating a hasty vamoose from Kiev all the way to Moscow. Perhaps we could have a Dictator's Marathon in Rio come 2016. I'd watch "Baby Doc" Duvalier run from shouting crowds. And you would too. After all, you watched Curling, right?

Let's move on.

The latest is that Russian security forces are now in the Crimea and are asking Ukrainian forces to defect. They're also trying to neutralize and reverse the events of last week when crowds in Kiev forced the President from his post. Putin is being painted as the bad guy here, but the West has a problem on its hand that is similar to what happened in Egypt last year. A democratically elected government has been overthrown in a decidedly non-democratic manner, but since the people who have taken over are seen as a better alternative, the western powers are accepting the change. This is dangerous.

Of course, Yanukovych made this problem worse by leaving. Had he stayed and honored the agreement he made with the opposition, then the system would not be under such strain. And I suppose he could be invited to come back as part of a Putin-sponsored deal that restores the legitimately elected government and keeps Yulia Tymoshenko out of jail. I don't expect this, but I didn't expect the Crimea to become a world headline and another part of the world that most Americans can't find on a map.

President Obama and John Kerry will need to finesse this so that we don't look weak, but that we also don't get involved in a shooting war. I trust that they'll hold off the Republicans who want us to refight the Cold War with hot weapons and show Vlad the Invader what a real country does with its taxpayer-bought arsenal.

Maybe we can use Governor Christie's expertise and cause a traffic jam that bottles up the Russian forces until we can get the UN to negotiate an exit.

This one bears watching, and is a reminder that we need to be thankful that we have a level-headed team in the White House to see us through.

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