Marco Vestuti | 5 min read
After a month of violent protests and the killing of hundreds of Ukrainian civilians by Viktor Yanukovych’s Fascist police force during the Russian Winter Olympics, the people of Ukraine finally achieved their goal: an early election this May and their former President removed from power and fleeing the country. Ukraine’s citizens have created a new constitution that guarantees its citizens that rights enjoyed by almost all other countries in the developed world, and talks have begun for the nation to join the European Union. In response, several thousand Russian marines entered Crimea to occupy Russian and Ukrainian Black Sea naval bases and ports.
Russian international politics over the past century have a long and complex yet generally consistent history. Russian policy has been one of force-projection, using political arm-twisting, military or economic, to assert power over countries beyond its neighbors. Russia’s allies also practice this, as China has done (much less effectively) with the Senkaku islands, Taiwan, Japan, and much of the Pacific. Russia has shown it is not afraid to assert its strength, as evidenced by the First Chechen War in 1994-96, the Kosovo War in 1999, the Second Chechen War in 1999-2000, the Georgian war in 2008, and the country’s opposition to the 2009 Polish construction of Aegis strategic anti-ballistic missile defense systems, a combined land and sea defense-only system used by the members of NATO. Along with force projection, Russia has a long history of acquisition and subsequent loss of new lands. Without a doubt, it is the country’s need for force projection and land growth which has prompted its actions in the Crimean peninsula.
It is a mistake to think the Russia known to the United States today has significantly changed since the Cold War. It has been only twenty years since the country lost control of Poland, the Baltic states, Yugoslavia, and the German Democratic Republic. Until the beginning of this year, Russia has retained a control of Ukraine, a country that might acted as a strategic buffer zone to the West, a role which was, until the fall of the Soviet Union, previously served jointly by Ukraine and Poland. It is also a mistake to think that Russia is not still upset over the loss of Poland and the other former Warsaw Pact countries to the West, so it makes perfect sense that Putin would use his troops to stabilize its one remaining buffer zone, and send them into a strategically important and plausibly legitimate, and not to mention largely ethnically Russia-sympathetic, target.
All of this begs the question of Western response. What should NATO do about this terrible slight, this blatant act of aggression? The answer, of course, should be nothing. Ukraine is not a military or economic ally of NATO or the EU. An aggressor is the one side to strike first against the other; since Russia has not formally struck against any member of NATO, to keep its oath to avoid becoming the aggressor, the military response of the West should be to do absolutely nothing. In addition, there is debate about economic response, as the United States has already placed trade sanctions on the country following their occupation of the Crimean peninsula. Economic sanctions against its adversaries has seemed to be the first response of choice of the United States in the past couple decades, a method of sending a strong message without having any “boots on the ground,” as the President might say. However, though it may be done in the name of protecting Democracy internationally, economic sanctions threaten the greatest system of true, private Democracy ever created: Capitalism.
Protecting Capitalism internationally should be the first interest of the United States. Capitalism is inherently peaceful, and unlike a true political Democracy, with a majority making a decision and a minority being forced to abide by it, Capitalism ensures each individual receives an individual outcome, which is fully his or her own choosing. Direct government involvement in Capitalism is what always corrupts it. Instead of keeping trade with Russia open and allowing each individual that composes the private sector of the United States, whose economic power is by no means insignificant, to make decisions for himself or herself, President Obama has instead taken matters into his own hands, and has evidently kept his promise to act on his own if Congress will not follow his orders. Clearly, this action by the President, though on paper done in the best interest of the country, is a direct affront to Capitalism in the United States, as well as to any chance of privatized, free Capitalism in Russia. As another side note, it seems far too convenient to be coincidence that these sanctions have included the complete prohibition of import of Russian surplus firearms and ammunition, which are very cheap and have become extremely popular among the thriving firearms community in the United States, the import of which President Obama has no doubt wanted to end for quite some time. But, in all, it is comforting that, while Capitalism is put in a choke grip, while the Bill of Rights, and the rights of Americans, suffer disgusting levels of infringement, while our country is transformed into a new Soviet Union at home, at least our presence is still asserted abroad.