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Ukraine and the GOP Divide

March 4th, 2014 - 9:29 am

David Freddoso:

The non-interventionist wing of the party, best represented perhaps by the 2016 aspirations of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, R, is in a tough spot trying to fault Obama for what has happened. The more bellicose national security wing of conservatism is having an “I told you so” moment about Vladimir Putin. Of all people, Mitt Romney was surprisingly prescient in declaring Russia America’s top geopolitical foe.

The results of American diplomacy over the last five years have been disastrous from either perspective — to give two examples, both the results of the Libya invasion and the effort at rapprochement with Putin appear to be profound failures. And third, after accepting a Russian-brokered arms inspection deal with Syria, the U.S. has been humiliated by obstinate non-compliance.

This doesn’t necessarily recommend more wars — and that certainly isn’t what Americans want. But war isn’t the only way to show toughness or resolve.

A couple points to get out of the way first. It’s going to be difficult for the GOP to unite behind a single foreign policy Big Idea, just because of the multipolar nature of the post-Cold War world, and because of the dark nature of the terror threat. Defeating the Soviet Union required standing up and standing tough at every opportunity. Defeating al Qaeda (for lack of a broader and more fitting term) requires both less and more. The other point is one from yesterday — nobody “lost” Ukraine. It was never ours to lose.

The broader problem in the post-Soviet region is much like the broader problem in post-colonial Africa. The borders suck.

European powers drew lines on a map in a Berlin conference room in 1885, which made little ethnic, linguistic, or even economic sense. Instead of allowing Africans to redraw those lines, upon their exit from the continent, the Europeans insisted they be adhered to still. There have been precious few border changes since 1885 on a continent in desperate need of them.

Same deal with the old Soviet Union. Communist thugs drew the borders, giving little thought to if they made any sense. In order to avoid massive bloodshed upon the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia and the other 14 constituent Soviet republics agreed to keep the old borders. But what made sense in 1991 makes less sense today.

But making adjustments, probably necessary in the long term, is proving difficult and bloody in the short term.

The best we can probably hope for is to try and do what we can to help make the transitions as bloodless and peaceful as possible. But that would require a position of strength and positive American leadership — which is all but impossible given the nature of the American President and Moscow’s post-communist thug.

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All Comments   (4)
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I would suggest to the GOP a venerable, yet important policy: we are the friends of liberty everywhere, but guardians only of our own.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Most people do NOT want to see a US intervention in Ukraine. There is little of national interest there that warrants risking blood and treasure. On the other hand, there should be something to do between that extreme and kissing the butt of every despot that shows up while sending Herman Munster out to babble about climate change being the world's biggest diplomatic problem. Maybe if Obama spent some time actually thinking about it instead of playing golf and mocking people who disagree with him, he'll have something better to say than "You're on the wrong side of history" the next time someone takes advantage of his fecklessness. And there will be a next time, this performance guarantees it.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Of all people, Mitt Romney was surprisingly prescient in declaring Russia America’s top geopolitical foe.

Prescient?

It was obvious to anyone who wasn't blinding themselves; who else would it be?
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think you're absolutely right. Pundits, analysists (sp) and politicians need to be looking at the multi-polar world of the late 19th century for analogies and possible lessons. Not the Cold War. Unfortunately, I'll bet most of them have no clue about anything that happened before 1950, at best.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
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