Walter Russell Mead on going forward with Ukraine:
In one sense, the West “won” the lion’s share of Ukraine. This was the point that the administration’s press acolytes were quick to point to as proof that our “smart diplomacy” still had the upper hand, but the cost of this “success” will be high. Russia sliced off Crimea, but has so far refrained from any more land grabs; that leaves the EU and the US holding the bag for the rest of the country. The weak and corrupt Ukrainian state, its inexperienced revolutionary leaders, its failing economy and its deeply divided population now turn to the West with hopes high and hands out. The West has two choices and neither one is particularly pleasant. Option one: it can turn its back on Ukraine while the country flounders further, turns bitter at western failure and inevitably slips into orbit around Moscow. Option two: it can embark on an expensive, difficult and quite possibly doomed exercise in nation-building, with Putin able to deploy a formidable array of policy tools against us whenever and however he chooses. Quite possibly, option two will turn out to be a longer, more humiliating, more painful and more expensive way of getting the same ultimate result as option one
I blanched nine years ago when PJM’s own David “Spengler” Goldman argued that the proper Western response to Ukraine’s Orange Revolution was to pretend it never happened, and forge a grand bargain with Moscow. In exchange for a strategic partnership in the Terror War and against Iran’s nuclear program, Russia would get the Russian bits of Ukraine and Rump Ukraine would get the old Finland treatment. But we’re Americans, I thought at the time — we don’t chop up independent nations to please ex-KGB thugs.
Would that we had. Would that we had.
All that’s left to us now is a narrow selection of bad options, with Putin free to twist our tails from Estonia, through Ukraine, to Syria, and beyond. And the bitter will to do it, too.