Foreign Policy Problems So Simple Even Women and Children Understand Them


One of the many proofs of Sarah Palin’s stupidity was her foreign policy musings. Vice presidential candidate Palin thought that she knew something about Russian motivations. She thought that a weak and confused response from the U.S. regarding Russia’s 2008 invasion of Georgia would eventually embolden Russia to invade Ukraine.

The experts thought this foolish. Everyone who listened to the experts thought her dumb. (See comments to Camille Paglia’s 2008 praise for Palin.) Even as late as last week, fine foreign policy minds thought a Russian invasion of Ukraine an improbability. They were caught by surprise.

Who wasn’t caught by surprise? Simpletons like Sarah Palin for one. Mitt Romney, for another. My sister-in-law works for a Ukrainian company. Russian takeover scenarios have loomed over her professional life and our family dining room discussions. My husband and I had no problem explaining the events to our children (10, 8 and 6 years old) this morning. The only thing they didn’t get was why anyone was surprised by Putin’s move. “Don’t the experts know geography and history?” my 10 year old asked.

It is quite simple. It’s geography, really. Russia has many natural resources, all difficult to transport within and out of the country. Ukraine has seaports that don’t freeze over for months out of the year. Russia doesn’t. Russia’s national interest, military and commercial, needs the ports. She has seized them before and is doing so again. The fine point, nuanced politics that experts at State are ever so expertly analyzing? Those just signal the timing.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine isn’t surprising. It’s on schedule. And even Sarah Palin could see it coming from her porch.