Dear President Obama: It is important to remember that whatever moral leverage you may have had in the court of world opinion has been sacrificed by the precedents set by previous American presidents who did not do what you say Mr. Putin should do -- obey international law.
I am surprised the German Bundestag has not yet adopted a law banning former Chancellors from taking jobs in companies in which authoritarian regimes have a majority stake.
To many in the West, Vladimir Putin seems mysterious, as well as deeply troubling. Troubling he is. But mysterious not so much.
Now should be the time when Secretary of State John Kerry and President Barack Obama aggressively propose confidence-building measures, not mete out more military muster. This will get us nowhere fast.
UN Secretary Ban Ki Moon's trip to Moscow to meet with President Putin yesterday was, at best, an exercise in pro forma UN diplomacy. It seems mostly designed to show to UN member-states that Secretary-General was acting expeditiously to resolve the Crimean crisis but without really advancing any innovative or practical solutions to the dispute. Listen to Mr. Ban's words to Russian President Vladimir Putin, as reported in the press: let's protect the Russian minority in the Ukraine; let's make sure that "a small incident" does not spiral out of control; let's begin a dialogue between Kiev and Moscow. Now no person will disagree with Ban's sentiments. But given the dire confrontational situation now looming between Europe and the US versus Russia, one might have expected Ban to come forward at this stage in the stand-off.
The right enemy can be extremely useful to a politician; after all, the nature of the game is to draw contrasts with an opponent. With an adversary as infamous as Putin, it's easy to reap the rewards.
What's the bigger mystery: Flight 370's current location or Ukraine's future existence? See how well you've been following events by taking our latest Week to Week news quiz.
Before his annexation of Crimea, Putin exercised much of his geopolitical influence through a menacing sort of strategic ambiguity. He could use Russian gas as a weapon one moment, then play geopolitical partner and peacemaker the next. But his seizure of Ukraine has removed all ambiguity.
The current confrontation with Russia over its armed seizure of Crimea is in many ways a repeat of the 1968 invasion. And we Americans are partly to blame for it.
Even though Putin lectured Obama at length, after forcing him to come to his dacha outside Moscow, about Russia's concerns, with a very special emphasis on Ukraine, the reality that the administration had to deal not with a nice ally and potential buddy but a tough guy with very clearly defined limits did not sink in.
Friends have asked me to write to explain what is going on. But how do I explain an extremely complicated situation that feels so personal? Mainstream media runs headlines about Ukraine right next to stories about Syria. And isn't that the bottom line -- how do we avoid another Syria?
Why can't one criticize both Washington's foreign policy machinations while also decrying Putin's excesses? Adopting such a position seems clear as day and a "no-brainer," yet the left cannot seem to get beyond the narrow confines of its own ideological fixations.
The idea that the world we create at a personal level can influence if not determine the sort of world we create at the national and international level seems naïve, perhaps, unless one looks at the default alternative, consigned to us by the media: that our role is to be a spectator in the global wrestling arena.
Russia's brazen annexation of Crimea presents a vexing foreign policy crisis for the Western powers. How can these actions be denounced without pointing a finger back upon their own forays and interventions?
The crust is not as thin as that at Pepe's in New Haven, and the ovens are evidently metal, not brick. But whenever I visit, Casa Bianca reminds me a little bit of home. And I suspect the same was once true for President Obama.
Crimea is gone. Increased sanctions and criticism from the West will not stop Russia's annexation of this largely ethnic-Russian peninsula. As Ukraine now withdraws its troops from Crimea, America and its allies should instead focus their diplomacy on the preservation of a democratic Ukraine.