Cool thinking is in order
I find myself in uncommon agreement with the Rutland Herald, specifically, its recent editorial titled “Putin’s quagmire.” Although the shoot-down of the civilian airliner with 298 (mostly Dutch) passengers appears to be the work of Ukraine’s separatist rebels, the Russian military almost certainly aided and abetted the attack. It is tempting at this point to engage in saber rattling, and some show of resolve is surely in order. But Putin may already be regretting his overreach and, rather than escalating an already tense situation between nuclear powers, it would be wiser to exploit his apprehension.
When President Barack Obama painted himself into a corner with his “red line” policy on Syrian chemical weapons (promising military action if Syria attacked its own populace with chemical weapons and then vacillating when they did), it was Vlad who gave him a way out by intervening diplomatically, brokering a deal to destroy those chemical stockpiles. By most accounts, it has succeeded, with the weapons now gone or on their way to destruction.
Perhaps Obama should return the favor and offer to have John Kerry broker a deal to de-escalate the Ukrainian standoff, with a graceful way out for Putin. What that deal might entail is beyond my meager understanding of a complex geopolitical mess, but a foundation of reciprocation seems like a good place to start.
World War I and many other blood baths were ignited by impulse and miscalculation. Conversely, the Cuban missile crisis was resolved when John Kennedy offered to remove U.S. missiles in Turkey in exchange for the removal of Soviet missiles in Cuba, giving Khrushchev a face-saving deal that averted Armageddon. Now is the time for such cool thinking.