Though a plan had already been announced, the Ukrainian interim government has formally ordered Ukrainian troops to leave Crimea. In between the announcement of a plan to withdraw and the formal order Russian forces have been taking over and surrounding Crimean military installations.
Despite ordering a pullout of all military forces and the results of a referendum, the leaders in Kiev claim that Crimea is still part of Ukraine. Though it’s unclear what that claim even means for practical purposes.
The announcement comes as the neoconservative agenda faces greater scrutiny in the US with more and more people questioning its value such as Ross Douthat of the New York Times. Douthat says the neoconservative view of continued unchallenged encirclement leading to exploitation and an internationalist view based on turning Russia into a traditional Western state were both illusions.
On the surface, these ideas were in tension: One was internationalist and the other neoconservative; one sought partnership with Russia and the other to effectively encircle it. But there was also a deep congruity, insofar as both assumed that limitations on Western influence had fallen away, and a post-Cold War program could advance smoothly whether the Russians decided to get with it or not.
Now both ideas should be abandoned.
After Crimea, the illusion of control, to dictate outcomes should be dropped, according to Douthat. The reality is not only is the US and EU limited in what it can do there is a lack of will to send troops to die for the cause. “U.S. politicians aren’t ready to say that South Ossetia or Simferopol is worth the bones of a single American Marine.” Douthat ultimately calls for realism, to understand America’s limited power.
What has been interesting to see during this crisis is that all the old neoconservative arguments and characters from the Iraq catastrophe are still around – growling and yelping for more war. Sadly, many media outlets are happy to play along, sapping what little credibility they have left. Instead of remembering history it seems many still prefer illusions.