The unrest in Ukraine has entered a new stage as naval bases in Crimea have recently been taken by forces friendly to Russia. One could legitimately question whether or not the United States has any moral authority to take action if events get increasingly out of hand in Ukraine. Certainly, the Crimea issue raises some interesting foreign policy questions for the United States.
It is actually a little unclear at the present time as to the exact identity of the forces that took Ukraine’s naval bases in Crimea. For example, an article in the UK edition of Reuters indicates that these forces were indeed Russian. In fact, it specifically uses the phrase “Russian troops” multiple times. Meanwhile, some other articles mention only that the forces were pro-Russian. Perhaps it was a combination of Russian troops and Crimeans who favor Russia.
In any case, the real question for Western nations is, what reaction to these events is acceptable? Should America become involved at all?
Perhaps unfortunately, American politicians have already become involved – at least in a war of words. Before the referendum on Crimea splitting from Ukraine, multiple politicians gave their opinion on the matter. At the time, John Kerry indicated that the United States would not recognize the referendum as being valid, should it favor a split from Ukraine.
Roughly 97 percent of the voters did indeed choose to side with Russia. Needless to say, some have questioned the legitimacy of this vote. It is impossible to know for certain whether the referendum accurately reflects the views of the people of Crimea. However, maybe it is not the business of the United States, regardless of the outcome.
John McCain also spoke prior to Crimea’s referendum. He lamented the idea that America is apparently seen as weak due to inaction on Crimea and other issues. He even went so far as to suggest that the United States support Ukraine by giving the smaller country military equipment.
McCain spoke of how President Obama’s foreign policy apparently promotes “pulling back from the world.” Yet America has intervened (directly or indirectly) in multiple places since Obama became president. Unfortunately, McCain’s statement does not seem to match up with reality.
The Crimea issue really highlights an important foreign policy problem. In some ways, the crisis is about more than Ukraine and Russia. It is also about what role America ought to have in the world. There are some who seem to think that the United States should always be on the forefront, actively involved in a host of world issues. Meanwhile, others believe that America should not involve itself in the affairs of other nations.
Perhaps America can “lead” without imposing sanctions and giving out military aid. America can lead by being a positive role model for other countries. America can be a world leader by being a place that freedom can thrive, both socially and economically, and individual liberty is upheld. However, fixing all the world’s problems is simply not possible, and it can create more problems than it solves.
The issues with Crimea have raised an important foreign policy question that has been relevant for some time now. Perhaps it is time that Americans decide what role they want their country to have.
Editorial By Zach Kirkman