There was fighting talk at last week’s NATO summit in Wales. The alliance’s leaders pulled few punches in criticizing Russia’s actions in Ukraine and agreed on plans to counter future provocations by Moscow. The U.S. corralled a posse of its allies to coordinate the fight in Iraq against the Islamic State. After a summer characterized by global turbulence and ill-concealed uncertainty in both the U.S. and Europe over how to react, the summit signaled that the West has some sense of shared purpose.
Worlds apart, two leaders are planning to intervene in worsening conflicts outside their borders, and citing humanitarian concerns as their rationale. In Iraq, President Barack Obama and his administration are considering how to contain the violent march of radical Islamist militants and provide help to those whom the Islamists threaten with extermination. In the conflict in eastern Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a convoy of 280 trucks with what the Russians describe as “humanitarian aid” for the embattled region.
President Barack Obama will preside over a meeting of the United Nations Security Council during his attendance of the U.N.’s annual General Assembly, ThinkProgress has learned, marking the second time in history that a U.S. president has done so.
In Still Ours to Lead: America, Rising Powers, and the Tension Between Rivalry and Restraint, Brookings Senior Fellow and my CIC colleague Bruce Jones sets out a compelling analysis of the present global power structure.
At the end of March, with the crisis spreading from Crimea to eastern Ukraine, Kerry instinctively reached out to Lavrov anew. The pair held four hours of inconclusive talks in Paris. Then it was back to Geneva in mid-April for quadrilateral discussions with the European Union and the Ukrainians: Seven hours of negotiating delivered a new set of “Geneva Accords” outlining plans for the pro-Russian separatists occupying government buildings in the east of the country to disarm.
Many observers have cited the crisis in Ukraine as yet another example of American retrenchment and declining global influence. Some have also interpreted it as evidence of a Russian-led effort to mobilize the major emerging economies – Brazil, India, and China – against the West. While there is a kernel of truth in both narratives, each is a gross exaggeration, as is the notion that America’s capacity to shape a secure and prosperous international system is in decline.