THE NEW STRATEGIC ARCHITECTURE FOR WESTERN STRATEGY IN THE POST-CRIMEAN WORLD
"Whatever the origins of the events in Ukraine, the United States is now engaged in a confrontation with Russia. The Russians believe that the United States was the prime mover behind regime change in Ukraine. At the very least, the Russians intend to reverse events in Ukraine. At most, the Russians have reached the conclusion that the United States intends to undermine Russia's power. They will resist. The United States has the option of declining confrontation, engaging in meaningless sanctions against individuals and allowing events to take their course. Alternatively, the United States can choose to engage and confront the Russians. A failure to engage at this point would cause countries around Russia's periphery, from Estonia to Azerbaijan, to conclude that with the United States withdrawn and Europe fragmented, they must reach an accommodation with Russia. This will expand Russian power and open the door to Russian influence spreading on the European Peninsula itself. The United States has fought three wars (World War I, World War II and the Cold War) to prevent hegemonic domination of the region. Failure to engage would be a reversal of a century-old strategy. The American dilemma is how to address the strategic context in a global setting in which it is less involved in the Middle East and is continuing to work toward a "pivot to Asia." Nor can the United States simply allow events to take their course. The United States needs a strategy that is economical and coherent militarily, politically and financially. It has two advantages. Some of the countries on Russia's periphery do not want to be dominated by her. Russia, in spite of some strengths, is inherently weak and does not require U.S. exertion on the order of the two World Wars, the Cold War or even the Middle East engagements of the past decade".George Friedman, "From Estonia to Azerbaijan: American Strategy After Ukraine" Stratfor: Global Intelligence. 25 March 2014 in www.stratfor.com.
"For some frustrated with the complexity of the post-Cold War world, redividing the globe along an East-West axis would be comforting. Yet doing so serves military and defense interests all too well, as George Kennan understood as he watched his original doctrine of containment become an entrenched enmity licensing military adventures in the name of anti-communism. That vision of the world does not reflect present realities. It would become a self-fulfilling prophecy that strengthens autocracy in Russia and increases the likelihood of Russia reverting to what the West considers a rogue state. Other nations that have reason to resent what they see as an imposition of Western values would view Moscow as a leader of an independent coalition of states dedicated to protecting national sovereignty. It will be the world Putin wants. We should not let him have it."Anne-Marie Slaughter, "The war of words over Ukraine plays into Putin’s hands". The Washington Post. 25 March 2014, in www.washingtonpost.com. There seems to be a near consensus among the Anglo-American commentariat, that the annexation of Crimea by Putin's Russia requires is both a challenge of sorts, and requires a long-term response. With perhaps the only difference being that some bien-pensant types akin to Mme. Slaughter, are viscerally opposed to 'demonizing' Putin and or his Russia. The fact that the entire Crimean episode was part and parcel of an internalist (in the sense of primat der Innenpolitik) focus, makes this type of criticism illusory. Make no mistake: Putinism it appears requires for domestic political reasons a siege-mentality. Putinism will not it is easy to predict, any longer care to conform to the norms of the Western club of powers. It could have been the case perhaps that in his earlier, more reformist phase in power (2000-2005), that Putin wanted to enter into a co-operative relationship with the West. In the aftermath of the color revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine, as well as growing hostility to civil society liberalism in Russia itself, such a policy option was put on the shelf, never to return. Perhaps his interim successor, Dmitry Medvedev had initially hopes for a rapproachement with the West. If so, Putin's return to power in 2012 put paid to it forever. Therefore, it is entirely in order to anticipate an extended time period wherein there will be a high level of diplomatic antagonism and competition (to a lesser extent) between the Western powers and Matushka Russia. And however unfortunate that factum is, there is little that one can expect but that this antagonism will continue as long as Putinism rules Russia. Just as it was quite impossible to have a normal relationship with Serbia under Slobodan Milošević. A state of affairs which only ended with Milošević ouster in the first of the 'color' revolutions in anno domini 2000. Whether or not, Western policy should set as its aim a strategy of 'overthrow', is to my mind not very clear and perhaps to a degree unnecessary. The mere fact that the Western powers will show their diplomatic, economic and strategic antagonism towards Russia and its Putin-allied elites with the concomitant costs for Russia will inevitably result, in the downfall of the regime. The mere question being: will this occur sooner rather than later, and will this result in a complete dismemberment of Russia as s sovereign state. Or will the outcome be akin to one of the color revolutions in which the populace of the capital will execute a quick and efficient de-capitation of the regime. Whatever may occur however the point of Western strategy towards Russia should be to quietly, and as diplomatically as possible heighten the economic pressures so that both the Russian populace and Russian elites, particularly in the two capital cities see, that Putinism is not a system of governance which safeguards either its economic or other interests or future. Accordingly, a system of sanctions (much harsher than at present but not to the full extent possibly by any means), which will demonstrate the costs of Russia's current policies are in order. coupled with a step-up level of military build-ups in the periphery surrounding Russia: in the Baltics, Poland, Romania, Moldova, and Georgia. As well as a programme of economic and military assistance to the new (post May 25) Presidential government in Kyiv. In short, Russia will face a curtain of encirclement on its entire European periphery: north, west and south. Intelligently run and with a certain amount of patience, time will soon enough see the crumbling of the Putin regime from within. It is all a matter of waiting and watching.