Russia’s bold action forces US subtlety

U.S. as world police: why America should stay far from the crimean quagmire

On March 18, President Vladimir Putin welcomed Crimea back into the arms of its mother, Russia.

Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula, which violated international laws of acquiring territory, has sent shock waves throughout the Western world, leaving us with this question: how will the United States respond?

Public support for our allies in the region is all the U.S. can afford right now.

The current American government has taken the historically popular path of participation in other nations’ conflicts. In a speech on March 27 in Belgium, President Obama called for a threat of stronger economic sanctions and a strengthening of military forces along the Ukrainian border.

But, is this really the best option?

The current sanctions target an elite few and are unlikely to hurt the population as a whole. Further economic sanctions, such as a transnational embargo on Russian energy sources, would do little now to make a significant impact.

There are evident Russian weaknesses that the U.S. could take advantage of.

“We (should) start selling our oil and gas to (Russia’s) clients,” said Robert Duncan, visiting assistant professor of political science.

Considering Russia sells one third of its energy exports to Europe, this could be on the right track. The impact of economic sanctions is questionable.

“Putin has a time limit on his regime,” said Matthew Carter, junior and political science major. “The sanction will hurt when the next leader is in power; that is when the sanctions will start to take effect.”

So, if military action is ill advised and economic sanctions are unlikely to make an immediate difference, what are we left with?

Staying out of it.

The U.S. can’t get itself involved in an expensive overseas conflict again.

“(Considering the notion of) the U.S. being the world police, I think we should step away from that,” said senior and political science major Patrick Withrow. “We definitely should not put any military pressure on Russia.”

Bullying fellow nations into democracy and unwanted wars has certainly not benefitted the U.S. in the past.

“It’s up to Crimeans to decide what they want to be a part of,” said Assistant Professor of Economics Natalya Shelkova, who still holds Russian citizenship after moving to the States 10 years ago. “They have the right to make an informed decision.”

There is speculation as to what if any American interests are in Crimea. Economically and militarily speaking, there is little for us there.

“From a principled perspective, it is a problem we have to care about,” said Rob Bobroff, interim chair of the history department at Wake Forest University, in an interview with The Guilfordian. “Not that Crimea is essential to our interests — it’s not vital to us in any way — but the principle of national sovereignty is important to us and to the European Union and its members.”

Our interests are political. They are based on American morals and we have had a long and unsuccessful history of exporting those ideals.

“The U.S. has an investment in security in the situation,” said senior and political science major Avery Hill. “Ukraine is the only democratic buffer between Russia and Europe.”

The feelings from the Cold War seem to linger as suspicions arise again. But, this is not the Cold War; we are no longer fighting a communist, autocratic regime, and we can no longer respond with imperial heavy-handedness.

“The Cold War is over, and we don’t have to worry about detente,” said Withrow.

There is no need to continue domineering international policies which alienate us from much of the world. This time, America can sit on the bench.