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In a recent commentary about the Russia/Ukraine/Crimea situation, I concluded my analysis by suggesting, “the crunch reveals an appalling lack of realism and foresight by all relevant Western parties, i.e. the US, Canada and the EU.”


To back up just a bit, I remind my readers that the Soviet capitulation after the “cold war” occurred without a shot being fired. Compare this with Germany’s capitulation to the Western alliance in 1918, which ended the First World War.  Defeat in “war” in both instances led to economic collapse.  The results in both cases were a failure by the subsequent governments to raise the living standards in the broader society.


And now, the US, Canada and the EU have utterly failed to comprehend Russia’s ( and Putin’s ) domestic problem: that  country has yet to recover from the greatest systemic failure and economic living standard contraction ever experienced by a nation-state in peace time.


The end result of our empty posturing is that Russian attention is thereby distracted from the very real socioeconomic and environmental issues that really matter to their society.  Instead, we whip up an aggressive approach in response. 


It is entirely reasonable to believe that President Putin knows that his future and his legacy depend on his administration’s ability to raise Russian living standards by removing the impediments to investment in economic production and employment.


When he engages in military aggression and utilizes energy resources for extortionate advantage, President Putin may be able to win a few battles, as he fires up the Russians and distract them from the social and economic problems that really matter to them. 


But, Putin knows that without solving the problems that hamper economic production, employment, and an improved living standard in Russia, he will “lose the economic war” as did Nicholas II and the last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.    


And we, in response, rather than whipping up an aggressive approach to Putin, would be wiser to adopt a pragmatic and realistic one. 


The US and the EU should accept the annexation of Crimea by Russia, and Russia should be a party to any treaties between the EU and Ukraine.


We should then pursue an enlightened approach to helping Russia and Ukraine, along the lines and spirit of the Marshall Plan, thereby assisting President Putin to mitigate the impediments in Russia that hamper investment in economic production and employment, thus helping him to foster social satisfaction and political stability. 


Further, bearing in mind our misguided experience following the Soviet failure, we might even try to rewrite the history book by employing Mr. Gorbachev as a mediator between the two sides. Mr. Gorbachev, we might remember, was the great visionary who saw the underlying problems of Soviet society and attempted, however erringly, to mitigate the fallout that we have now seen from our own regrettable policies in the region.


In that manner, responsible private investment in business, creating employment in local and regional economies, might take shape in both  Russia and Ukraine, thereby  benefitting the EU, the Americas, and Putin himself.


After have dialed his long planned Crimea wakeup call to a leadership in the EU, Canada and United States which seems to be out of touch with reality, will Putin realize that  territorial annexation by political intimidation, energy extortion and military aggression is a stupid tactic? It is surely a losing strategy. He might instead, if given the opportunity, show statesmanship and leadership and work constructively with the EU, The United States, and Canada.  The alternative:  wind up another Nicholas II or a Pinochet.  


It takes two to tango! Will the  EU, Canada, and the  United States remember, as should Mr. Putin, Wellington’s famous pronouncement before Waterloo: “the statement is made and positions taken – only the battle remains”?  Putin might remember Mr. Bonaparte and retreat from the brink (as should we all) when the consequences of failure are all too obvious.


 March 31, 2014


Kell Petersen