Long weary of the inconvenience of the Ukraine Crisis, the determination of American and European political leaders to hold Russia accountable for its blatant and unprovoked infringement on Ukraine’s sovereignty is often doubted. When President Obama thanked Russia for its role in the Iranian Nuclear Deal early this month, it raised concerns that the Obama Administration had sold out Ukraine for Russian assistance. Doing so would certainly be beneficial and convenient for Western governments, but it would also violate the basic tenements of the International Community while returning the world to one where the instability and violence of “might makes right” rules.
For decades, the United States has exported its democratic principles to the Peoples and countries of the world by leading the democratization of the International Community. Not only have the many Peoples of the world experienced a steady shift in how they view their governments and rights as citizens, the International Community as a forum for governments has been democratizing. Where the US and Russia ruled the geopolitical landscape during the Cold War, the United States briefly enjoyed a short period of as unrevealed superpower status before a resovereignization trend started to emerge.
Since the 1990’s, America’s declining influence has been a major topic of concern. An alternative view is that weaker nations began to reassert their own interests and sovereign rights, because there was no overriding national security interest forcing them to align with one of the global superpowers. Because this meant the United States could not simply dictate geopolitical terms, US political leadership reacted by acting more assertive, which resulted in backlash from resovereignizing allies. Where nations once turned to the likes of Russia and China to balance America’s power, the domineering behavior of Russia and China is now helping push other nations to realign with the United States.
In many respects, the resovereignization process is a result of the democratization process. American victory over the Soviet Union meant Western democratic ideals had defeated the authoritarian nature of Communism. Instead of the most powerful ruling over others for their own benefit and crushing any opposition in order to avoid inevitable rebellion, the might of the many determined what was right. On the international stage, nations, including ones that denied their own citizens democratic rights, expected the US to respect their sovereign rights and national interests. Despite various conflicts, the United States has been far more responsive to the interests of other nations and far more restrained in asserting its national interests than any other global power.
Considering Russian President Vladimir Putin has spent his years in power dismantling democracy at home, his expulsion of nongovernmental organizations (NGO’s) like the National Endowment for Democracy, because they are “undesirable organizations” boldly demonstrates his true mission is to solidify power for himself and his cronies. Where many are hopeful the Russian People will final chose to behave as rationale actors and turn on their beloved strongman due to their failing economy, Putin is a shrewd man who firmly believes soft Western leaders will capitulate. Putin believes Western leaders are hypocritical and just as unprincipled, self-serving, and easily bought off as Russia leaders.
Truthfully, Putin is right to a certain degree, but Western leaders also recognize the threat Russia and its old world order present to their power and the health of their Countries. By pursuing backdoor deals with powerful Western governments on Iran, Syria, and Ukraine, Russia is actually subverting the sovereignty of weaker nations. Anti-Western Russian propaganda has focused on the need to fight back against Western oppression, but Putin’s goal is simply to push small nations away from powerful Western governments and use Western influence to help crush opposition to a polarized cold war global order that would return Russia to its former glory. In short, the true cost of Western leaders appeasing Putin is the weakening of democracy around the world, which will only foster greater conflict and instability.
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