It took three weeks for President Obama to publicly address the crisis of more than 250 Nigerian school girls kidnapped by Boko Haram. Evidence is mounting that, beyond its strategic self-interest, the US does not have an operating philosophy on defending human rights.
History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme. We have seen that isolationism only results in greater conflicts later. It is only through the cooperation of nations that firm and clear lines can be drawn and that others can be enticed in.
The genocide in Rwanda was an emblematic failure of the international community. The world has since made important strides in acting on those lessons, but this work still faces setbacks. The international community cannot claim to care about atrocity crimes and then shrink from the commitment required to prevent them – whether in the Central African Republic or Syria.
In an interview, Robert Kaplan says: 'The United States can preserve the peace [in the Asia Pacific] by seeking not domination, but a favorable balance of power with China. It must at some level allow China its rightful place in the Western Pacific.'
Europe should be working to integrate, not isolate, Russia. Punitive isolation is what the Treaty of Versailles did to post-World War I Germany, leading to Hitler’s rise and World War II. Instead, the West and Russia have everything to gain by Russia’s coming closer to the EU.
Condoleezza Rice states: 'The recent events [in Ukraine and elsewhere] should be a wake-up call to all Americans. I know we are tired and worried about our problems at home, but we cannot eschew the responsibilities of leadership and embolden those who don’t share our values.'
Where is Europe as Vladimir Putin is about to pocket Crimea? Or more to the point: Who is Europe? As Putin’s Crimean gambit unfolds, we don’t hear much from London and Paris. Germany has moved to center stage, touting its responsibility for world order and taking a more active role.
By targeting the Ukrainian government with a cyber weapon, the Russians are able to effectively engage in an aggressive, kinetic act without actually declaring war, or other countries reacting like it is an act of war. This will not last forever.
Ukrainian political elites have repeatedly tried to fob off their failures onto Moscow and the West, while extorting maximal support from both. The West must make any cash handouts conditional on meeting protesters' demands for democratic reforms.
The US and international community have run out of other options for addressing Syria’s bloody civil war. Greater humanitarian assistance can have a stabilizing effect, brings factions together, and paves the way for future cooperation. Without it, broken societies never mend.
Rather than pressuring Hamid Karzai to sign the bilateral security agreement now, waiting for the new Afghan president to sign the BSA gives it more legitimacy, may help end the Taliban insurgency, and will secure better US-Afghan relations for the future.
The strategy of the West regarding Russian aggression in Ukraine should be to complicate Vladimir Putin’s planning. He should be given options to avoid conflict. But he should also be made aware of the negative consequences for Russia that would follow armed conflict.
The US can no longer afford to remain mute on the erosion of freedom in these two key Mideast powers. While certain interests may tempt Washington to emphasize stability over democracy, this is a mistake. A look to Russia shows the fallacies of engaging with autocratic regimes.