Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Crimea

When it Comes to Sanctions, Both Democrats and Trump are Inconsistent

Toward the end of his presidency, Barack Obama began relaxing economic sanctions on Cuba. The argument was simple–the sanctions had been in place half a century, but there was no hard evidence that they were affecting Cuban policy or seriously encouraging regime change. It seemed to many that the sanctions just made ordinary Cubans worse off and enabled the Castro regime to blame America for economic setbacks. Why not flood Cuba with American goods and American culture instead, and try to win the Cuban people over with goodies? The Trump administration never liked this idea, and it immediately set about reinstating the barriers. But now many of the same people who enthusiastically supported Obama’s efforts to change policy on Cuba–including many Senate Democrats–are calling for Trump to perpetuate and intensify sanctions against Russia, and Trump is reluctant to go along. This is intellectually inconsistent–on both sides. It reveals that when it comes to sanctions, both the Democrats and Trump are more interested in scoring political points at home than they are in having a coherent foreign policy.

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No, We Should Not Arm Ukraine

In a recent report titled Preserving Ukraine’s Independence, Resisting Russian Aggression: What the United States and NATO Must Do, the Brookings Institution in conjunction with the Atlantic Council and the Chicago Council on Foreign Affairs advise NATO to drastically increase its arms commitment to Ukraine. The report has fundamentally misunderstood the nature of the conflict in Ukraine and has consequently given governments advice that is both irrelevant and terrible. Here’s why.

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It’s Time to Cut a Deal with Putin

It was beginning to look as though things might be winding down in Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin had the duma revoke his government’s permission to intervene directly in the country, and the pro-Russian rebels have been beating a swift retreat. But since Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down in Ukraine, western countries have unleashed a new round of sanctions. Russia has retaliated with sanctions of its own against the west, but in a far more worrisome move, reports have it that Russia is once again amassing troops on the border with Ukraine. To minimize the risk of further escalation, it is now time for the west to offer Putin a deal.

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Mitt Romney is No Captain Hindsight on Ukraine

Since I last wrote about Ukraine, the Russians have occupied and annexed Crimea, a region that has a 70% majority ethnic Russian population and a major Russian naval base. The United States and the European Union have done even less than I anticipated in response–sanctions have been confined to a few figures in Putin’s administration. At this point, the armchair generals are beginning to come out of the woodwork, with Mitt Romney going so far as to tell us what he believes he would have done had he been elected in 2012. Unfortunately, Romney is no Captain Hindsight, and his proposals only serve to illustrate what a poor choice the American people had in 2012.

 

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The Crisis in Ukraine is America’s Fault

I am an American and I love America, but we got this one wrong and we need to collectively own up to our screw up. American foreign policy decisions have been direct causes of the Russian military intervention in Ukraine. The narrative in the popular American press, that Putin is behaving aggressively or even irrationally, is incorrect. In truth, Russia is acting from motivations that are grounded in its desire to defend its legitimate security interests. Here’s why.

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