|Putin's Push: Reality versus Rhetoric|
Congratulations to Thomas Graham, a senior fellow at the Jackson Institute, who was the senior director for Russia on the US National Security Council staff 2004-2007. He has shrewdly analyzed the Russian push under Putin, in its historical context, and outlined the steps that the West has to take to deal with Putin. Visa denials and economic sanctions, while nice sound bytes, are pretty meaningless. His views:
The way to stymie Russian expansion is not by denying visas and freezing assets of Russian officials and their business associates, the West's current approach. Nor will sanctioning entire economic sectors, as the West now threatens, likely succeed. National security always trumps economic well-being in Moscow's - and Putin's - world. Rather history indicates that the way to stop Russia is to organize the regions along its periphery. The West has already done that in Eastern Europe and the Baltics, now safely anchored in the European Union and NATO, although the states there will require reassurance and continued support for deepening integration into European institutions.
But Ukraine, like Moldova and the Caucasian states, teeters on the edge of becoming a failed state. Consolidating it as a modern state is an enormous task, requiring wholesale replacement of a predatory elite that has sabotaged economic development - according to the International Monetary Fund, Ukraine's economy as grown by about a quarter since 1992, while Russia's has more than doubled - and billions of dollars to bridge a short-term financing gap and billions more to build a modern, competitive economy. Putin is betting that the West lacks the resources, the vision and the patience to help consolidate Ukraine. He believes that history is on his side and that his world is the real world. The West has yet to prove him wrong.
If broken nations or failed states are the problem you want to fix, then you have to commit to a meaningful, expensive, intelligent and long-term program of nation-building.
Or jet back and forth uttering bombastic statements about morality and absolute rejections of the steps Putin has and will take to restore his view of Russia’s glory.
The West – and especially the USA – has two powerful weapons at its disposal: its democratic values, and the enormous strength of its capitalistic economy. They can both be harnessed into a proactive, positive and effective foreign policy.
But the USA also has major problems, starting with the shortsightedness of most of its economic and political elite, and the parochial bickering that masquerades as meaningful political debate in the Senate, the Congress and the media.
Statesmen with vision are called for; but right now America offers small-visioned, undisciplined and erratic leaders to the world.