Russia’s aggression shows the need to move beyond “collective security.”
Russia’s annexation of Crimea and continuing pressure on Ukraine reveal more than the Obama administration’s national-security paralysis and a lack of strategic vision. Like the collapse of the League of Nations between the world wars, it marks the failure of the progressive dream of collective security. The pressing question is not whether Russia has violated norms against aggression — it has — but how the United States and its allies should respond so as to strengthen the international system.
Only the United States can lead the world’s democracies to rebuild a world order that allows forceful measures to protect international peace and stability. Though far superior in economic and military might, the United States and its European allies have shrunk before Putin’s boldness. Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula without firing a shot, is stirring up unrest in eastern Ukraine, and has massed troops on the country’s border. President Barack Obama has responded by sending a token force to Eastern Europe, imposing economic sanctions on a few of Putin’s supporters, and sending only food and non-lethal aid to Ukraine.