Loren Thompson writes: The interim prime minister of Ukraine was in Washington this week, and according to the New York Times, he was asking just one thing of U.S. leaders. He said as a signatory to a 1994 treaty guaranteeing the security of Ukraine, America “must defend our independent, sovereign state.” Some members of Congress sound like they agree, especially Republicans who are using Washington’s slow response to Russian occupation of the Crimea as the latest evidence that President Obama is weak when it comes to dealing with America’s enemies.
If Obama looks weak, it is mainly because he sees the danger of decisive action in a place that matters far more to Russia than America. Over the last two decades, the United States has gotten used to fighting enemies with modest military capabilities and crackpot leaders, but Russia is a much more imposing player. If Washington somehow stumbled into a military confrontation with Moscow, the U.S. would probably lose and in the process run huge risks to its larger interests.
Most Americans seem to understand this — a CNN poll this week found three-quarters of respondents opposed to even giving military aid to Kiev, with far fewer backing use of U.S. forces. Nonetheless, some hardliners seem to think America’s military might play a role in forcing Russian leader Vladimir Putin to back away from what they see as a return to the expansionist foreign policies of the Cold War era. Here are six reasons why using U.S. military power in the current crisis would be a strategic miscalculation of epic proportions. [Continue reading…]