The Ukraine-Russia crisis
Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
There is a strange phenomenon occurring in Washington as it tries to address what is indeed the most serious international crisis since the end of the Cold War. Fortunately, it is not involving nuclear weapons, at least not yet, but it represents a classic East-West standoff reminiscent of the good old days. The differences which are being mentioned repeatedly by commentators are two fold; there is no bi-partisanship anymore on foreign policy whatsoever, regardless if the standoff is domestic or international. Second, everyone is criticizing and demanding that something needs to be done by Obama, yet no one has offered a single intelligent suggestion or recommendation; because there are none.
To be totally clear, the U.S. did not create this crisis. The President appears to have been as blinded sided by the Ukrainian confrontation as anyone else. It is not ours to fix but to try to neutralize and alleviate so that perhaps more thoughtful leaders can sort through the options to defuse a very nasty political—potentially military—confrontation. Rousing the American people against Obama on this matter is mindless partisan leadership which will lead to no constructive solutions.
All that having been said it seems that at the present moment the West has very few options and America’s European allies—given their dependence on Russian oil and natural gas–have even fewer ones. It would seem that many of the other independent former Soviet Republics are burning their candles at both end as they consider how to avoid any crisis themselves with the Russian (Putin) Bear in the weeks and months ahead. If Putin actually starts to make a push to reestablish Mother Russia, the confrontation in the Crimea will be child’s play.
For Netanyahu, coming back from his visit to the U.S. and watching international events unfolding on a global and not regional scale, it must not have given him satisfaction as he assessed Israel’s options vis-a-vis Iran and its nuclear capacity. The two are crises are not directly connected except from a potential U.S. decision-making perspective. The Obama Administration, at this point, cannot seriously consider any more aggressive options against Iran than those that have been agreed upon and are in place. The crisis with Russia underscores this fact for Israel. It might, if anything, give Israel freer range, more support, and less criticism as the U.S. cannot be directly in any direct confrontations. It will be interesting to observe how Abbas reacts when he visits Washington next week.