America should be hands off on the Russian annex of Crimea
By BRANDON QUINTIN
The Russian government is currently in the process of annexing the Crimean region of Ukraine.
However, unnerving as it may be, there is nothing that the United States can do about this.
For, its diplomatic influence is minimal, and its military influence is near non-existent. Making it a contentious issue between the United States and Russia will do nothing but harm to the international community as a whole.
Saying this is clearly going against the natural instinct of nearly all Americans.
Everyone from the top decision-makers in Washington down is used to opposing nearly every single thing Russia does. In fact, to do so is expected of them, but the Cold War is long over.
American and world interests lie elsewhere.
Do not let this be mistaken for Russian sympathizing or cold-blooded realism.
Instead, let these recommendations be seen as a form of “visionary pragmatism” designed to serve the interests of the United States in the long-run. By not opposing the Russian takeover of Crimea, the United States would not be giving in to Russian pressure or pursuing weak international policies.
Rather, the United States would be realizing what it simply can and cannot do, and then wisely using it to its advantage. If Russia intends to annex the Crimean peninsula, it will do so.
That being said, if the United States openly opposes the Russian takeover, as it is currently doing, only to do nothing to actually halt it, it will look like a defeat and be interpreted as a long sought victory by Moscow.
As Napoleon once said, “One should never forbid what one lacks the power to prevent.”
If on the other hand the United States does not openly oppose by Russia’s move, it will deprive Russia of their public “victory,” and American leverage will increase concerning their other world activities.
The Russian annexation of Crimea serves as a chance for some old fashioned diplomatic horse-trading.
The United States cannot afford to focus as much on European affairs as it used to.
In accordance with the so-called American “pivot” toward Asia, more an abstract idea than an actual policy, the U.S. should trade its non-opposition of the Crimean Crisis for greater Russian cooperation and alignment against China, whose intentions concerning the East and South China seas are of far more importance, and in limiting Russian arms sales to Assad in Syria.
With the imminent transition in the structure of international power, toward Asia and away from declining Europe, the United States must maintain acceptable if not positive relations with Russia.
Additionally, such a response may convince Europe to take greater control of its own security. For too long Europe has been free-riding off American military might. With our attention needed elsewhere, the lack of American military involvement may be enough to force Europe, especially Germany, to increase its military expenditures among the Western powers—which has been unacceptably low since the end of the Second World War and has not improved since the end of the Cold War.
The United States can do nothing to stop the Russian annexation of Crimea should it occur.
Therefore, this situation should be utilized as best as possible, and spun to benefit American interests in more important regions of the world. Although this suggestion may appear tragically realist, it may be exactly what is required.
After all, the United States must not find itself preoccupied with the former focus of international affairs. We must look toward the future. Europe is the Old World. It’s time to move on.