The President has officially stated that he has ruled out the use of force to deal with the situation in Ukraine. The president asserted that the response not only from the US but internationally will be to use diplomacy to handle the crisis in Ukraine and Crimea. Many have compared Russia’s seizure of Crimea to Hitler’s annexations of countries leading up to World War II, but predicting what will happen next or the best way to handle this situation comes down to educated guesses and speculation. We can only hope that the way our leaders choose to handle this delicate situation does not lead to a major conflict.
President Obama gave a very politician-like answer in regards to what is being done as opposed to military action: “We are not going to be getting into a military excursion in Ukraine…What we are going to do is mobilize all of our diplomatic resources to make sure that we’ve got a strong international correlation that sends a clear message.” While vague and overly general statements like “…our diplomatic resources…” to achieve “…strong international correlation…” will usually cut it during an election campaign, when the stakes are World War III and the world as we know it, it seems appropriate to go into more specifics, such as exactly what sanctions are going to be put on Russia, and what exactly strong international correlation means and with which nations is he planning on “correlating” with.
The good thing at this point is that our soldiers won’t be deployed to face off with Russia on the border between Crimea and the rest of the Ukraine. President Obama stated that he suspected even the Ukrainian government would agree that military intervention in the Ukraine by the U.S. would not be beneficial or appropriate even from the Ukraine perspective. At this point, Ukraine had already withdrawn their forces in Crimea to withdraw beyond the border, ceding control to Russia. The situation for Ukrainian forces in Crimea had not been favorable. Most had been confined inside their bases due to pro-Russian militias in the area. Their orders had been to avoid armed clashes at all costs.
President Obama’s decision is not unexpected considering the direction of discussions of what to do about the situation in Ukraine leading up to Obama’s announcement. Jay Carney had made comments in press conferences that indicated that military action was not a very prominent option being discussed. The majority of the world leaders agree that military action would not be an acceptable response. The decision to rely on economic sanctions, however, is somewhat worrisome, seeing as how Russia could feasibly do more damage to the U.S. than the U.S. can do Russia. A war of economic sanctions would likely end with Russia liquidating its $130 billion (give or take) in U.S. Treasuries and ceasing to accept transactions involving the dollar. Putin could likely convince his ally, China, to do the same, effectively crippling the U.S. international economy and throwing the balance of world power into a different hemisphere in one fell swoop.
The potential for this situation to go horribly, horribly wrong is one of the most terrifying things about it. Senator John McCain has been particularly outspoken on the issue, suggest that responding with military force is the only feasible way to prevent things from escalating. To McCain, allowing Putin to continue to control Crimea would give him the go-ahead to seize control of Moldova, as Russian troops are already stationed there, and to continue rebuilding the Soviet empire. No one wants to see our soldiers get in harms way, and any alternatives that rectify the situation and keep soldiers from seeing a battle in Crimea will definitely be explored.
Russia continues to maintain that the people of Crimea have elected that they wanted to become part of Russia and Russia merely accepted their choice. Keeping an eye on what is happening in Crimea and around the globe in response will be one of the most valuable ways we can spend our free time in the coming weeks and months. Hopefully, the situation in Crimea ends peacefully and with no escalation. In this nuclear age, the stakes are too high to risk another global conflict.