Diplomacy, not war, is the answer in Ukraine

Forgive us for the expression “here we go again,” but the crisis in Ukraine is one of those moments.

From the right, there’s criticism of the Obama administration for not “doing something” about Russia’s invasion of Crimea and its use of troops against Ukraine.

What the right doesn’t say is what, exactly, President Barack Obama should be doing. Do we really want a war with U.S. troops—even as part of a coalition—deployed in Ukraine? Or perhaps we should go all out and “nuke ’em back to the Stone Age,” which will, of course, take all of us to destruction?

On the left, we’re hearing complaints that the United States has lost the moral high ground, since what Russian President Vladimir Putin is doing in Ukraine is so very, very similar to what we did in Iraq.

Does this mean we should ignore the Ukrainians’ right to determine their own government, to protest—as so many so clearly did—until they ousted a leader they found corrupt? Should Ukraine’s sovereignty in Crimea be ignored?

We are at the place where reality meets realpolitik, and this is not the time for extreme action.

Instead, this is a time for deliberative and thoughtful use of nonmilitary pressure to discourage aggression. The Russian economy is in trouble, and its stock market has taken a bashing because of this invasion. The use of diplomatic pressure and sanctions doesn’t make for good sound bites—and it certainly doesn’t sate the “do something!” crowd—but it is the sanest approach to military aggression on the part of a major nation, especially one with an extensive nuclear arsenal.

Here’s the lesson that we needed to learn from the Cold War: When everybody’s got nukes, nobody wins a hot war. So we applaud the measured approach being taken by Obama and the other leaders of the G-8 nations, and call for continued use of tactics and approaches that keep the door open to diplomacy and closed to war.