There are plenty of fingers being pointed over the current crisis in Ukraine. However, perhaps it is time that Americans look to their own apathy, because the United State’s dangerously complacent policies are a direct result of American complacency to world issues.
Most notably, polls routinely show that Americans across the board have little to no interest in being more involved with the problems of the world.
In Syria, most Americans are still opposed to stopping the Assad regime’s massacre of civilians. The result is, quite literally, nothing happening.
In Ukraine, the situation is very much similar. The country sits on the brink and there are significant implications for the future of the entire world.
However, Americans do not want to get involved. In all seriousness, the West in general would rather take the back seat to Russia dominating the geopolitical landscape.
And in the case of Ukraine, Putin is well aware that complacency dominates the US public opinion. This emboldens his actions because he knows that, regardless of how the world feels about him, the world would still be waiting for someone else to do something.
Along those same lines, President Obama is very much aware of public opinion in regards to Ukraine. Although his foreign policy gets bad grades in various polls, he knows that he would get worse grades if he were to do much of anything.
And this is not to say that disinterested citizens are bad people. For the most part, the public does not want to get involved in another war half way across the world; Americans yearn for peace.
However, peace comes at a price. Putin must know that there are significant consequences to significantly unacceptable actions. This stems from the public pressure of the American people.
The result of American apathy is the Ukraine crisis. Had the American people been more engaged, leadership in the U.S. and the world would take notice and respond.
It is very much like voting. It is often remarked that a single vote might not cause change, and in fact for that reason, many people do not vote.
However, each vote shows leaders what issues matter. Each vote shows that leadership must be more responsive to the people. And each vote demonstrates an engagement and investment into the future.
What is most important here is that it is the United States that is not engaged. The world can live with a complacent Canada or Australia.
Being the superpower, the U.S. and all its citizens are in a unique position of influence. With this power comes a responsibility to make sure that things do not get out of control.
But when the world’s superpower has a population that does not care that Russia could be on the brink of invading Ukraine, there is a big problem.
Take World War II as an example. The American people had no interest in another European War. In the same sense, Americans did not want to be involved in the Pacific.
However, war came to the United States with the attack on Pearl Harbor. Ignoring the issues of the world or pretending as though they are not America’s problem does not make them go away.
On top of this, inaction leads to stronger adversaries. The longer that the world waits before developing a strong strategy, the more time Putin has to strengthen his own position.
It should be understood that the situation in Ukraine could still have a diplomatic solution. Everything may very well blow over and return to a status quo.
However, American apathy actually makes diplomacy less likely to succeed. And unless the public becomes more engaged or more supportive of an active strategy in the Ukraine Crisis, the result could be devastating.