If Crimea Really is Important, Tell Us What Obama Ought to Do About It

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Fareed Zakaria has a piece in the Washington Post about Ukraine. Here’s the headline:

Why (this time) Obama must lead

So I clicked. Plenty of sensible stuff. The EU dithered. Ukraine blew up. Putin responded stupidly. “Let’s not persist in believing that Moscow’s moves have been strategically brilliant,” Zakaria says. His invasion of Crimea has turned the rest of Ukraine irretrievably pro-Western; triggered lots of anti-Russian sentiment on his borders; soured relations with Poland and Hungary; and sparked Western sanctions that are going to hurt.

And Zakaria says this is important stuff. “The crisis in Ukraine is the most significant geopolitical problem since the Cold War….And it involves a great global principle: whether national boundaries can be changed by brute force. If it becomes acceptable to do so, what will happen in Asia, where there are dozens of contested boundaries — and several great powers that want to remake them?”

OK, fine. So what should Obama do? Here it is:

Obama must rally the world, push the Europeans and negotiate with the Russians.

Go ahead and click the link if you don’t believe me. This is, literally, the sum total of Zakaria’s advice. So what’s the point? Obviously Obama is already doing this. Is he doing it badly? Is he pressing for the wrong sanctions? Is he working too much behind the scenes and not enough publicly? Should he be threatening a military response? Should he ask Zach Galifianakis to tape an episode of “Between Two Ferns” with Vladimir Putin? Or what?

Maybe I’m more frustrated than usual with this because I tend to like Zakaria. Sure, he’s sometimes a little bit too weather-vaney for my taste, but he’s smart and practical and tends to understand the big picture pretty well. So why not tell us what he thinks the US response should be? We could use some judicious advice to make up for the tsunami of idiocy emanating from the crackpot wing of the foreign policy community right now.

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We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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