The people of Syria, Ukraine, and Pakistan must ponder the worth of America's word. Foggy Bottom and the White House have fast been developing a track record of overpromising and under-delivering. Their mishandlings have left in their wake dead protesters, gassed children, failed states, and a rearrangement of international borders.
Independent-minded "allies" such as Japan, South Korea, India, Germany, Philippines and Israel must be busy recomputing traditional approaches to diplomacy and defense, for the American variable in their equations seems wobblier than ever before. The events in Ukraine raise serious questions about America's credibility as a deterrent against China, Russia, or Iran should these undemocratic countries pull more Crimea-like shenanigans around the world.
Had Ukraine's democratically elected (now deposed) President Viktor Yanukovych taken Putin's initial deal, Ukraine would've arguably remained one country with some semblance of law and order in which both pro-Russian and pro-Western Ukrainians could've worked together to strengthen their nation so as not to be an artifact in an east-west auction. At that time the EU had basically accepted a pro-Russia Ukraine, but the US kept up the pressure, continued to meddle, and gave false hope to many naive protesters in Kiev's Maidan. The outcome has been a fiasco -- Ukraine is extraordinarily unstable, embarrassed at its inability to defend its borders, and on a counterproductive altercation course with Russia. Obama and Kerry look like fluffy, academic parliamentarians with a tough-sounding SAT vocabulary, the power to un-invite Russia from a summit or two, and a thundering ability to freeze a few bank accounts. How so very effective.
The Ukraine saga should force us all to ask: how can the people of any country ever trust America's counsel again?
If one were to try and avoid cynicism, perhaps what we are witnessing is a step back in America's desire to be the world's policeman. A mix of libertarian resurgence, war fatigue, and prolonged economic spanking has caused this to be a politically popular position. If that is indeed the direction America has chosen, then so be it. However, there is a lesson to be learned from the recent looting in several Argentinian towns after the local police suddenly declared a strike to demand higher wages. The lesson is that a vacuum in law enforcement inevitably causes thuggery.
America will similarly imperil the world if it abruptly abdicates its policing role. It must organize a systematic and orderly transition in global policing -- perhaps enlarge the NATO, invite Turkey into the EU, help set up an Asian and African version of NATO that includes India, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, South Africa, Malaysia, and Vietnam, reform the UN, and institute a system of trade sanctions to prevent further enrichment of states such as China that have been nuclear proliferators and oppressors. It is fine if Americans want to retire from their role in world policing, but juvenile and impractical interventions like the one in Ukraine or the sudden abdication of responsibility like in Syria are inexcusable. An aging Uncle Sam should put together a proper succession plan and execute it.
Regardless of what mix of disingenuous American intervention and genuine American fatigue has caused these prominent global setbacks, to its allies America has started to resemble the Lannisters more than the Starks -- an undependable meddler talking a big game disguised as a friend who doesn't deliver when it really matters. As America continues to prove itself untrustworthy and unwilling to lead, it is up to the nations of the emerging world order to band together (with America as one of them) to sustain the sense of peace and freedom the earth has known for the last two decades.
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