Paris, April 9, 2014 – An international disorder unmatched since the interwar 1930s has been created by the drama of Ukraine and the Russians, combined with the inherent self-destructive forces of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the developing civil war over theological as well as political issues inside the Islamic states, and the serious risk of collapse in the European Union.
At least no ideological dictatorships are on the march, nor is any new millenarian totalitarianism apparent, only confusion, incompetence, and intellectual and moral disorder. But these are bad enough, in an over-armed world.
Only one man seems to have a clear ambition. Vladimir Putin wishes to return position and power to Russia, and so far has shown the clear-headedness to deal with those who oppose him.
His is not an ignoble ambition, if the prospective subjects of his Eurasian economic bloc are willing to have it happen, and see advantage in it. Beyond Crimea, this is by no means assured, and eastern Ukraine may prove a stubborn obstacle to the reunion of the Russian-speaking peoples who live on Russia’s western and Baltic frontiers, if that is what President Putin wants.
It might be accomplished diplomatically, which is what he has suggested that he wants –thus Russia’s proposal for referenda in contested areas and negotiations with Western supporters of a new Ukrainian government, possessing a new electoral mandate. But it may not be possible that way, and the quality of the diplomacy thus far displayed by Brussels – by both EU and NATO – and by the United States has amounted to little more than bellicosity and unenforceable threats.