It might be old hat to you to find out that Russia invaded a section of Ukraine known as Crimea in March. The reasons for the seemingly random land grab dates back to the Cold War and the end of the Soviet Union when land was divided up. Apparently Russia got cheated out of some land. I don’t know the ins and outs of European land division that happened 60 years ago and who got what and why and how. Did Russia get short-changed? Maybe. Maybe not.
The issue at present, though, is something that I think needs to be discussed. The big question that resulted from Russia’s invasion of Crimea was “Should the U.S. get involved?” in stopping Russia. That is a rather big question that clearly does not have an easy, definitive answer.
Some argue that the U.S. should not be the police force of the world and we should just mind our own business. This is a tempting view to claim because it would save a lot of soldiers going off to war and dying. We wouldn’t have to worry about other countries and we could just focus on the U.S. We do have enough problems of our own to deal with anyway. No need to go solving everyone else’s problems when we can’t even work out our own health care. (I’ll save that rant for another day.)
Some also say that it’s not really our job to enforce democracy or democratic ideals on other countries. Is democracy (more like a Republic, but let’s not get nit-picky technical, here) really the ideal and “best” way of organizing government and a society? Perhaps. Perhaps not. I realize that democracy is not the explicit reason we would get involved in the Ukraine, but I think it definitely influences why we get involved in foreign affairs. On some level, getting involved is sending a message to the rest of the world that we do not believe Russia’s form of government is safe or even right.
While these are strong arguments for not voluntarily getting ourselves into the mess, we must consider the other side of the coin. I’ve heard and read arguments that countries should simply not invade other lands. They should stick to their own allocated land and worry about their own people. But, I think the issue with Russia and Crimea is far more complex. Sixty years’ worth of history in the Cold War is being dragged out again. Russia wants land and some Crimeans want to be part of Russia because their language and ethnicity aligns more with Russian than Ukrainian.
While the notion that each country should stay within their own boundaries and not worry about other countries might seem to prevent a lot of wars and bloodshed, it’s a bit too idealistic. In extreme cases, it opens the door for tyrants to take power and for holocausts to happen right under our noses. I’m not saying that Vladimir Putin is the next Hitler. I think that’s too extreme. I am saying, however, that it is kind of our (and every other country in the world’s) business to know what other countries are doing and, in some cases, to take action. This is what the UN is for, and while it is not our sole responsibility to enforce justice, we do have a considerable influence in the world.
These reasons, along with many others including the economic costs of getting involved and the potential for warfare that I simply do not have space to go into in this relatively short article, must be considered when trying to answer the question of whether we should get involved or not.
I think it’s important to realize that this is a big, complicated issue that cannot be answered or solved overnight. It’s far more complex than perhaps we even know and grappling with the different arguments can be difficult. It’s important, though, because it affects us. It’s our generation and the generations after us that are going to reap the consequences, and as citizens of this country and world, it is our responsibility to be educated and knowledgeable about such topics.
People have their opinions and political preferences about what the U.S. should do and it is not my place to make a political statement. I would encourage you to figure out for yourself where you stand on this issue. Sit in the complexity of it for a while with me, but eventually take a stand. It’s important because it will probably affect our tomorrow.
Meg Monacelli wants everyone to be educated and take a stand on the Russia and Ukraine issues. Feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is no easy answer as to whether or not the U.S. should get involved in the Crimea debacle.
There are pros and cons to both sides, but eventually everyone needs to take a stand.
This could affect our tomorrow, educate yourselves.