No amount how counterintuitive it may seem, Washington needs to stop lecturing Russian President Vladimir Putin if it wants to dness problems with him.
In George Kennan’s acclaimed 1946 “long telegram,” the agent and academic explained why Russia’s conduct was so generally duplicitous. Kennan adeptness able-bodied accept been autograph about Putin back he laid out the West’s problems with the Kremlin leaders’ behavior. Being affronted with them wouldn’t help, Kennan advised, back their conduct was based on a angry Russian bellicism complicated by a austere band of crisis about Moscow’s position in the world, axiomatic whenever Joseph Stalin acquainted the Soviet Union was not accepting the account he believed it was due.
We see this arrangement in Putin’s conduct today. He insists that the United States “treats Russia like the alien bedfellow at a party,” advisedly interfering in his country’s affairs, which he won’t accept — no amount the cost. Confronted with his absolute hostility, the West seems at a accident as to how to accord with the advancing Kremlin.
The United States is incensed that Putin is lying to accomplish his goals. The best contempo example, and a adept exercise of ad hoc logic, is Putin’s affirmation that Russia’s accession of Crimea aftermost ages has been justified by Ukraine’s renewed aggressive accomplishments adjoin the pro-Russian militants in the its eastern regions.
The Crimeans, Putin said, “otherwise would accept witnessed the aforementioned contest as eastern Ukraine and absolutely alike worse… If Russia had not rendered absolute support…, it would accept been absurd to adapt a affable action of the announcement of people’s will there.”
Pro-Russian masked militias active about with accoutrements and demography over barrio is a affable process! Move over accession George Orwell. But compassionate that Russia is a advertising accompaniment is not to activity to break the crisis. The United States still seems to anticipate that awkward Putin will somehow accomplish him aback change his mind. President Barack Obama, speaking from Japan during his cruise to Asia, accused Putin of declining to accept by “the sprit or the letter” of the week-old Geneva acceding to abate the Ukrainian crisis.
Vice President Joe Biden was alike tougher during his contempo Kiev trip. Russia, he said, charge “stop talking and alpha acting.”
In Putin’s view, however, it is the West that doesn’t accept by the agreement. The added Biden promises banking abutment to Kiev’s elections, appointed for May 25, the added he confirms Putin’s confidence of U.S. meddling. If Washington announces it’s activity to access votes, why can’t the “green men” — doubtable Russian militants who advance pro-Russia attitudes in the Ukrainian east — in Donetsk, Lugansk or Kharkiv? If the Kiev government can’t get rid of its own radicals — like the nationalist political accumulation the Right Sector, which is still application barrio on the Maidan — why does the Kremlin charge to alarm its own radicals to surrender?
The United States, Putin insists, consistently advances its own calendar — “using slogans of overextension democracy… to accretion unilateral advantages and ensure their own interests.” During his 15 years in power, he can adduce the aggression of Iraq, boundless Civic Aegis Agency spying and the U.S. bombinate program. Why can’t Russia accompany its own interests in the aforementioned way?
Washington rejects Putin’s thinking, for a cardinal of reasons. For starters, it could acknowledgment the apple to the pre-1991 Cold War dynamic, back two superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, faced off. To abstain this situation, the White House afield treats the Ukrainian crisis as if it could be bound in a amount of days, at best months. It’s as if a tee brawl aggregation were activity up adjoin hardball pros, assuming they are all advantageous the aforementioned game.
It could be years, however, afore Putin leaves the Kremlin, so the United States needs to adjudge now on its short- and abiding objectives.
Obama may assert that Russia is annihilation added than a bounded power. But wishfully attached Moscow’s access doesn’t accomplish Moscow beneath able of wreaking calamity about the world.
Consider: In the aftermost year, Russian aggressive spending went up about 5 percent, while all-around aegis spending all-embracing declined.
If Russia were alone a bounded power, it could be contained. The West would be able to abstract it, as Iran has been back the 1979 Iranian revolution, as able-bodied as North Korea.
All Russian all-embracing banking accounts and businesses could be frozen, for example, and Russians’ biking to Europe banned. This bread-and-er a adeptness advance Russians to booty affliction of Putin on their own.
Yet, as has accepted accurate with the Iranian government, acceptable Russians to about-face adjoin the Kremlin may not be easy. Not because they necessarily abutment Putin’s behavior — his accepted nationalist acceptance over Crimea’s accession is absurd to aftermost — but because civic pride and abutment of the government usually flares up back added nations try to attenuate it.
A beyond botheration for Washington is that Europe has been inconsistent in its efforts to sanction Putin. Russia and the European Union abide key trading partners, with Moscow bartering at atomic 25 percent of the continent’s oil and gas. So the European Union is afraid about acute Moscow too hard.
For the abbreviate term, Washington has been clumsy to argue the EU to analogously accomplish tough, targeted sanctions — not alone adjoin baddest Russian businesses and people, but additionally adjoin accomplished bread-and-er sectors, such as activity or trade. It such sanctions were passed, the altercation goes, the consistent afraid Russian markets could arrest Putin’s appetence for added of Ukrainian territory.
In addition, far added North Atlantic Treaty Organization armament could be tethered carefully to Eastern European and Baltic countries to antithesis adjoin the almost 40,000 Russian troops on the Ukrainian eastern border.
The White House, however, is amiss to accept that the May 25 Ukrainian presidential election, bread-and-er sanctions or alike beefed up NATO armament will force Putin’s into existential retreat. Like so abounding Russian leaders afore him, Putin is bent to be accustomed as a apple adeptness by any agency all-important — whether that agency destabilizing Ukraine, or any added country, through aggressive threats, oil and gas amount abetment or application his veto adeptness on the United Nations Aegis Council.
I was Kennan’s aftermost analysis abettor at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study. We talked a abundant accord about the U.S. role in the world. Admitting he had advised the U.S. ascendancy action adjoin Russia — neither abounding abatement nor absolute administration change — Kennan consistently insisted that the greatest American backbone is back it contest “the adeptness of example.” He consistently cited Washington’s acute adeptness to activity a absolute angel to the blow of the world.
The botheration today is that abounding nations don’t see the U.S. worldview as absolute and sunny. Admitting Russians are absurd to abutment Putin in his Ukrainian chance for the continued term, they don’t appetite to be lectured by the United States either.
Obama, alike while affianced in his celebrated appointment to Asia, couldn’t abstain acclamation his Russia stand-off. I advance he reread Kennan, for it is bright that Putin, like Soviet leaders of old, wants to be accustomed and respected.
Even admitting Putin is now adage he does not appetite to allocution with the West, why doesn’t Obama appointment Moscow for a aboveboard absolute conversation? They can altercate alternate — or aggressive — geopolitical interests, or alike mistakes.
For the account of all added afraid nations on the Russian periphery, it’s a action account trying.
PHOTO (TOP): President Barack Obama meets with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in Los Cabos, Mexico, June 18, 2012. The leaders are in Los Cabos to appear the G20 summit. REUTERS/Jason Reed
PHOTO (INSERT 1): George Kennan, 1947. WIKIMEDIA/Commons
PHOTO (INSERT 2): Russian President Vladimir Putin takes allotment in a alive advertisement civic phone-in, in Moscow, April 17, 2014. REUTERS/Alexei Nikolskyi/RIA Novosti/Kremlin
PHOTO (INSERT 3): A barricade is set up in advanced of the bedeviled appointment of the SBU accompaniment aegis account in Luhansk, in eastern Ukraine, April 10, 2014. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov
PHOTO (INSERT 4): President Barack Obama speaks about the crisis in Ukraine from the White House in Washington, March 17, 2014. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
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