March 27th, 2014
11:30 PM ET

Obama’s 21st-century power politics

By Fareed Zakaria

Compare what the Obama administration has managed to organize in the wake of this latest Russian aggression to the Bush administration’s response to Putin’s actions in Georgia in 2008. That was a blatant invasion. Moscow sent in tanks and heavy artillery; hundreds were killed, nearly 200,000 displaced. Yet the response was essentially nothing. This time, it has been much more serious. Some of this difference is in the nature of the stakes, but it might also have to do with the fact that the Obama administration has taken pains to present Russia’s actions in a broader context and get other countries to see them as such.

You can see a similar pattern with Iran. The Bush administration largely pressured that country bilaterally. The Obama administration was able to get much more effective pressure because it presented Iran’s nuclear program as a threat to global norms of nonproliferation, persuaded the other major powers to support sanctions, enacted them through the United Nations and thus ensured that they were comprehensive and tight. This is what leadership looks like in the 21st century.

There is an evolving international order with new global norms making war and conquest increasingly rare. We should strengthen, not ridicule, it.

Read the Washington Post column

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Topics: History • Russia • Ukraine

soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. friendsofindia

    Fareed, one word. FAIL.

    That is the verdict that India has concluded on you. Any more words, it is BIG FAIL. You failed to make America to invade Ukraine.

    If you had persuaded America to invade, it would have made India the world's greatest super duper superpower. Instead, you are doing nothing, and just sitting around. As the world's greatest democracy and its only super duper power, India should join the US in this invasion, for this is the only chance that the invasion can ever succeed.

    On the one hand, the US has plenty of experience of invading other countries, with the skills honed in the invasion of Panama, Greennada, Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan, that India lacks. On the other, India has resources and ways and means to manage large dalit populations. We can send 100 million of our dalit armies, that completely overwhelm all the population in Ukraine. We can make all the Ukraine girls to be married to our dalit soldiers, that will instantly solve our problem of too few girls, and at the same time all the next generation of them will be our content India dalits instead of Russians who are constantly a pain on America's butt. As for the rest of the Ukrain men, they will either all be vaporized in their unholy and futile so called resistance, or that they can all migrate to Russia to co-habit with their fellow Slaves.

    This will completely change the geostrategic situation, it will make India the strongest nation in the world, and enhancing our world's greatest and largest and duperest super power status. And in fact, that should turn it around immediately to make the USA our vassal state because of our immediate control of Ukrain oil and gas and our chokehold on the Russian land mass.

    Submit to your fate under our Hindu Colossus, beg our 5 rupee meal middle classes, bow to our super powers.

    Pray for India. Jai Hind!

    March 27, 2014 at 11:46 pm |
    • PEACE - no war

      You are not wrong. USA failed, to keep peace in Syria – once peaceful beautiful country in the Mediterranean. US job is not to invade other countries, but US job is for: PEACE KEEPING.

      March 28, 2014 at 8:44 am |
      • Joseph McCarthy

        Invading countries like Iraq and Afghanistan is hardly "keeping the peace", PEACE-no war. And now Obama's pretending to go ballistic over Ukraine and Crimea while getting his crony European "allies" on board. This is the same kind of stupidity that started WW1!

        March 28, 2014 at 11:25 am |
      • bobcat2u

        How do you propose that the US keep the peace in Syria when an insurgent group chooses to overthrow the sitting government ? Syria, before the insurrection, was one of the more stable areas in the middle east, just like Iraq. Thanks to our inept interference there, we see the results. Instead of the US being the world policemen / peacekeepers, these problems need to be handled by the regional powers, in this case being the Arab League.

        March 28, 2014 at 11:38 am |
      • Quinton

        US's job isn't to keep peace in warring countries. Get a clue. Fight your own damn battles.

        March 30, 2014 at 1:36 am |
  2. Kim

    Well lets face it, We know Putin is not done. NATO has known about this likely or weeks and has done nothing, No troops, no deterrent, no fly zone, nothing. Realistcally speaking what can we do that won't put us in WWIII but watch and pray from the sidelines?

    March 28, 2014 at 12:27 am |


    March 28, 2014 at 12:30 am |
  4. New World Order

    It's time for New World Order in which RUSSIA plays a significant role, and no China. RUSSIA has all the necessary resources and with a strong and peaceful U.S.-Russia alliance, China can be out-played to zero (0). Already now, EU needs Russia, not only for business and natural resources, but also for PEACE. No-one needs Asia.

    March 28, 2014 at 6:02 am |
  5. Betty Lee

    Yes, a good response and analysis, Mr. Zakaria,..... Not back to boxing in Russia. Remember the promises made by the West when East Germany joined West Germany...Nato was not to roar right up to Russia's border...Are the West's words forgotten? Never trust the West maybe many countries response. What are leaders thinking? So many countries see no respect, only West rule over all.

    March 28, 2014 at 9:09 am |
    • Joseph McCarthy

      Well posted, Betty Lee. Yes, the right-wing thugs in Washington want to dominate all of Europe as well as this country. Their greed knows no end! Their problem is, is that Russia stands in their way!

      March 28, 2014 at 11:29 am |
      • Quinton

        Oh shut up.

        March 30, 2014 at 1:37 am |
  6. USA did not want peace

    USA did not want to keep peace in Syria, but they used 'US-S.Korea secret military satellites', korean trained clandestine insurgent groups and korean-made-weapons to done war in Syria. That's why we urge USA to STOP US-S.Korea military collaboration.

    March 28, 2014 at 12:29 pm |
  7. j. von hettlingen

    Fareed, many of us find ourselves living in a 21st century world. Yet it is not far-fetched to say that Putin lives in the past. He is the kind of authority figure that Russians have been used to and have admired over the centuries. Russian history shows that it's the "firm fist" that has always won respect. Putin admires Stalin and perhaps secretly also Ivan the terrible. He is not a leader with modern visions, but with nostalgic dreams.

    March 28, 2014 at 4:52 pm |
    • j. von hettlingen

      It's a load of nonsense what the Wall Street Journal said about the Obama-administration living "in a fantasy world of international rules". In times of uncertainties, countries resort to international law to try to resolve their conflicts, knowing the costs of a military action would otherwise be.
      Winston Churchill's credo: "It's better to jaw-jaw than to war-war"!

      March 28, 2014 at 5:01 pm |
      • ✠RZ✠

        Your parallel here is not quite apropos. The "jaw-jaw" that has been coming out of these clowns run by the "deep state" seems geared to foment "war-war" rather than prevent it.

        March 30, 2014 at 1:53 pm |

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