Sunday, March 30, 2014

Ukraine: Some Commensense on Dealing with Russia

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.

Thomas Graham

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.


  1. Glenn, you apparently didn't get the memo but the era of statesmen has expired. The time of vision has lapsed. American democracy, as we knew it from the era of FDR until Carter, yielded to plutocracy with the arrival of Reagan. Plutocracies cannot abide political vision. They install and reward technocrats much like our man, Harper. It leads to transactional government at best. What, then, would be the grand bargain to be had for the United States in exchange for shouldering the long-term and open-ended burden of the Caucasus? The American people have been convinced they're being plundered and pillaged by Obamacare. How do you think they would welcome what would be seen as multi-billion dollar bailouts of some pretty nasty operators simply because they're located on Russia's doorstep?

  2. MoS, agreed. The road would be uphill. But the US stepped front and centre with a Marshall Plan once before, assisted a Britain reeling on the ropes against the facism of Hitler and the Nazis, pumped money into an economy to create jobs for Americans when the Depression threw millions out of work, so hope for a similar response still survives.


    Imagine if we could help hundreds of millions now deprived of decent lives, living without democratic rights, to gain both. Wouldn't the world be a better place?

    After all, we are our brother's keeper.

  3. Will you be itching to travel to Russia although the thought of applying for a new carte visa is usually generating your face whirl? Don't have a concern! Touring Russia visa-free is possible. Like a 3 day time be in gorgeous Saint Petersburg and expertise each of the memorable views this specific town has to offer without necessity in order to have a visa.

  4. Should you be any owner of the normal passport and thinking of getting any short-term European carte visa like a Traveler, Private, College student, Company, Humanitarian, Transit or perhaps Work, it is advisable to use for the European Visa Application Hub, not for the Consulate. This will not apply to those people possessing diplomatic and assistance passports.


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