The United States won the West, specifically California, with an early form of what Sean McFate would refer to as “shadow warfare.” Putin did something similar in Crimea in 2014. Rather than decry it impotently, the United States should wage its own shadow war in defense of its allies (until Washington and Moscow can actually create a workable peace deal between themselves, that is).
President Trump is a transactional leader. So, too, is Vladimir Putin. Let’s do the mother-of-all geopolitical deals and get on with more pressing matters of state already. Neither Ukraine nor Venezuela are worth risking a wider war with Russia. And, despite what “experts” in the United States claim, Russia is a declining power with delusions of grandeur. American policy toward Russia has left Putin with little hope. Thus, as he is increasingly boxed in by the West and a rising China to his east, the likelihood of Putin lashing out militarily against the West is higher now than it has ever been.
“Washington cannot lose its head on this matter. This isn’t Hitler marching into Poland in 1939. This is more akin to the Agadir Crisis in 1911. The Agadir Crisis was an outgrowth of German and French competition for greater influence in Morocco. The crisis was ultimately settled by slow negotiations which ratcheted down tensions. Of course, this event was one of those moments in history which set the proverbial stage for a far nastier event—the First World War—but the Agadir Crisis itself was small and ameliorated with shrewd diplomacy between the affected powers.”
“It’s time to face the fact that the United States has become the battleground for a ridiculous proxy war between two cousins, Ukraine and Russia. It’s no different than how the United States was the victim of an internal blood feud within Islam on September 11, 2001.”
“America’s allies must do what they can, when they can, against whomever they perceive as a threat. The United States will always have their backs; we will gladly provide intelligence and logistical support to these states.”
The best path forward, therefore, is diplomacy, stronger trade relations, and a hardened military defense of Eastern “Europe that placed indigenous militaries at the forefront and kept American forces over-the-horizon.”
It’s time that America take a backseat in European geopolitics. We’ve got bigger fish to fry. By stepping back and encouraging states like Poland to build their own nuclear arsenals and ABM systems, America can trust that our friends will be protected–without having the American taxpayers shoulder the brunt of the burden.
Brandon J. Weichert writes, “Zapad-17 is yet another routine Russian military exercise. This is nothing new.”
Russian Foreign Policy is more than its relations with the West. In my most recent lecture at the Institute of World Politics, I elaborate how Putin views the world and how the United States should handle its relations with Russia (hint: not the way that we’ve been handling them).
Most Western analysts are incorrect in their view on Russian foreign policy intentions. Very often, they focus solely on Russia’s western side and completely ignore Russia’s Far East. This backgrounder seeks to change that. After all, Russia without its Far East is not Russia. It is Muscovy. And that’s not a country, it’s an existential target.