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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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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