How do you solve a problem like Crimea?
by Franklin Clark, Reporter --
Mar 19, 2014 | 216 216 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The title is inspired by the title to the song “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?” from “The Sound of Music.”

As is almost always the case, we live in interesting and uncertain times. Under President Vladimir Putin, Russia is all but annexing the Ukrainian region of Crimea. There are doubtlessly Crimeans who feel more Russian than Ukrainian (Many speak Russian as a first language.).

Equally doubtlessly, many Ukrainians in the rest of the country felt like the former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich was too cozy with Russia. Many Ukrainians wanted to join the European Union. (Russia has a history of not being nice to the Ukraine.)

Crimeans have voted to join Russia in a recent referendum. Whether that referendum is legitimate is anyone’s guess.

It’s a complex situation, one that I don’t fully understand myself, and while Putin is acting like an overly-aggressive tin-pot dictator, I don’t know that we have any business getting militarily involved. I think the answer to the question in the headline is that it isn’t necessarily our problem to solve. Sometimes, it’s okay not to have an answer, especially when that is the most honest answer of all.

But like we’ve seen with Syria and Georgia and other regional conflicts, a lot of folks, including John McCain, seem to pine for military intervention or possibly even World War III. Now, if we do become militariily involved in this conflict, it will almost certainly not cause World War III. Even the Cuban Missile Crisis didn’t do that, albeit by just a hair.

Î’m not an absolute pacifist by any means, but we needn’t be the world’s police. Quite frankly, I don’t think we can even afford to be the world’s police, not unless we raise taxes, and possibly not even then.

Interestingly enough, this is the same Putin that many conservative commentators - if not a lot of actual,, everyday conservatives, have had a recent love affair with because of his opposition to Obama. They buy into his macho façade at least as much as actual Russians in Russia. Somehow, I doubt a real man would have used unmarked men to take Crimea and then pretend they aren’t affiliated with the Russian military. Nor would a real man have poisoned a dissenter with polonium. He’d have challenged him to a duel. Or better yet, simply left him alone. Someone who is truly strong can afford to have dissenters.

One thing is certain: the history of Crimean separatism long predates the Obama administration, so blaming his “weakness” (where “weakness” means still having a defense budget larger than that of most other countries combined, continuing to get involved in regional conflicts in the Middle East and continuing to have suspected terrorists killed) for Putin’s aggressive actions seems much too pat an answer. In a reality as messy as ours, simple and pat answers just won’t do, and must make way for nuance.

Franklin Clark is a reporter for the Cadiz Record and can be reached by email at
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