I noticed a prominent economist tweeted this the other day, reacting to the Russian occupation of Crimea: “Obama vows no tangible help Whatever happened to Democrats like Truman and Kennedy.”
This would be Truman whose Berlin Airlift occurred in a world where the U.S. was the only nuclear-armed country… and then he managed to get us stuck in Korea. And Kennedy narrowly managed to avoid getting everyone nuked over Cuba and our interference there (including his own)… but then still got us stuck in Vietnam.
So, I don’t know, maybe Obama’s handling this crisis pretty ok?
Look, this isn’t a knock against the person who tweeted that. It’s a pretty common frustration right now. I just happened to spot that particular expression of it. It’s a tense and complicated situation over there right now. There’s probably not much we can do. The U.S. isn’t omnipotent. Nor is Russia powerless before us.
Major miscalculations and underestimations following smaller disputes a century ago this year, not far from the Black Sea, brought Europe and later the United States into the devastating first world war. Let’s not repeat that. When major powers go head to head, it’s best to err on the side of doing less rather than making a catastrophic error the world will not forgive us for. And in the nuclear age, there might not be a world left anyway, after a bad call.
Maybe it’s time to calm down a bit and not fall into The Onion’s pointed characterization: “Ukrainian-Russian Tensions Dividing U.S. Citizens Along Ignorant, Apathetic Lines”