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5 Neocon 'Solutions' That Could Spark Catastrophe in Ukraine

Hawks in the Republican and Democratic parties are pining to escalate the Ukraine crisis.

Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham.
Photo Credit: lukexmartin/Flickr


The neoconservatives and the more aggressive hawks in Congress have turned their attention away from Iran and al Qaeda and toward their new (old) enemy: Russia.  

Always desperate for a way to justify inflated national security budgets and aggressive military intervention overseas, hawks in the Republican and Democratic parties are pining for a sharp escalation over the Ukraine crisis. They’re looking to punish Russia in ways that could turn a political crisis into an outright catastrophe, and are turning back the clock to the Cold War in their demonization of all things Russian.

President Barack Obama has initiated a non-military U.S. counterattack against Russia’s incursion into Crimea—itself a response to what amounts to a coup in Ukraine that deposed a pro-Russian leader.  But he has not escalated the crisis to an out-of-control point, though the U.S. bears some responsibility for starting the debacle by supporting a protest movement that removed a democratically elected leader. Obama has revoked visas from about a dozen Russian officials, suspended meetings in preparation for the Group of 8 summit in Sochi, Russia and canceled trade talks and military consultations with the Kremlin.

Further steps are being contemplated in the House and the Senate, like sanctions on Russian companies and a loan program for the new, pro-Western Ukraine government, which also includes officials from a right-wing fascist party. Tensions could heat up on March 16, when the residents of Crimea—the largely pro-Russian territory Russian forces are exerting control over—vote on whether to join the Russian Federation.  

The seemingly deliberative moves taken by the Obama administration are hardly enough for those bent on escalating with Russia. They are busy wildly screaming that it’s 1938 all over again, when the Munich agreement gave Adolf Hitler carte blanche to annex parts of Czechoslovakia. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s action are akin to Hitler’s pre-World War II moves. The neocons are smearing Obama as weak for not doing what they want him to do, claiming that Obama’s refusal to bomb Syria led Putin to believe he could invade Ukraine with little consequence.

"The combination of zero action on Syria despite our own declared 'red line' and the weakening of the American military sent a dangerous message, and not just to Putin. That makes it all the more important that we make Putin and Russia pay today," wrote prominent neocon Elliot Abrams, a former Reagan and Bush official. Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumself sounded a similar note in an interview with Fox News. "We have created a leadership vacuum in the world, and it is being filled by the Putins of the world, by people without our values or our interest, and it’s to the detriment of the United States and our friends and allies around the world. It is the United States that’s injected that instability into the world equation," he said.

Senator John McCain lamented that the U.S. can’t go to war with Russia. “I wish that there were [a military option]. … I do not see a military option and it’s tragic,” the hawkish Republican said.

But that reality hasn’t stopped neoconservatives from calling for a variety of measures that could make the standoff in Ukraine spin wildly out of control. Here are five ideas that could inflame the Russia-US standoff.

1. Missile defense on Russia’s border. Leave it to the Wall Street Journal opinion pages to distill the neocon perspective. In a March 11 article, the Journal published an article saying that “the right response to a Russian power play is a power play of our own. Ballistic missile defenses on NATO’s eastern flank would be a good place to start.”  

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