March 31st, 2014
09:20 AM ET

Zakaria: Russia endangering global order

Watch "Fareed Zakaria GPS," Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on CNN

By Fareed Zakaria

The best way to deal with Russia's aggression in Crimea is not to present it as routine national interest-based foreign policy that would be countered by Washington in a contest between two great powers. It is to point out, as Obama did eloquently last week in Brussels, that Russia is grossly endangering a global order that has benefited the entire world. 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 people were displaced. Yet the response from the West was essentially nothing. This time the response has been much more serious. Some of this difference is the nature of the stakes. But it also might 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.

This is what leadership looks like in the 21st Century. There is in fact an evolving international order with new global norms making war and conquest increasingly rare. We should strengthen, not ridicule it. Yes, there are some places that stand in opposition to this trend: North Korea, Syria, Russia. The people running these countries believe that they're charting a path to greatness and glory. But they are the ones living in a fantasy world.

Watch the video for the full take or read the Washington Post column

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Topics: Fareed's Take

soundoff (288 Responses)
  1. Bill

    The essential threat that this poses to world order is that it gives the strong impression that might makes right, and that nuclear armed countries can get away with things that those without nuclear weapons cannot. When Saddam tried to annex Kuwait, we pushed him back. Putin does the same thing with Crimea, and gets away with it, largely because he has nukes.

    We convinced Ukraine to give up its nukes. It's looking like a bad idea. Saddam and Qaddafi didn't have nukes, and their execution videos end up on YouTube. Kim does have them, and his does not. Not to hard to see why we're having such a hard time convincing Iran to give up on its nukes, is it?

    Where Fareed is off here, in typically partisan fashion, is that he's trying to paint Obama as a superior leader here, when his lack of leadership and/or understanding of Russia as a strategic problem is, in large part, what got us here. Good leadership isn't just dealing tactically with problems as they arise, it's setting strategic direction to keep them from happening in the first place. Obama took office in '08, and, instead of setting a strategic policy of containment with regard to Russia after their invasion of Georgia, he offered them a "reset button". Putin didn't take this as an olive branch. He took it as a sign of weakness or naivete. The result is what you see now.

    April 6, 2014 at 10:44 am |
    • trueteller1

      Where was the "strategic direction" from the Bush Administration when Russia invaded Georgia? "Strategic direction" is a code for "we've no clue what to do". The sad fact is that the US can do absolutely nothing to prevent Russia from invading Ukraine just as Russia can do nothing to stop the US from invading Iraq, Afghanistan, Panama, Cuba, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Congo, Nicaragua and Grenada.

      April 6, 2014 at 6:41 pm |
  2. J. G.

    Fareed, my man, after bombing,undermining and destroying 54 countries across the world in the name of your "national security" how can you cal Russians aggressors!? This is first time that after fall of USSR, when your administration started behaving drunken cowboys, that somebody said enough. Having these talking heads on your show with their dilettante ideas how to deal with Mr. Putin it just show that you all are not able to understand the reality and quit with the idea that your are some kind of God given nation,because you are not. You have to grow-up!

    April 6, 2014 at 10:52 am |
    • Joe Balderrama

      Good post, J. G.

      April 6, 2014 at 11:26 am |
    • Ted Ward

      Of course! Why bother with "dilettante" ideas when you can invade with masked green men, Cossacks whipping people, stuffed ballot boxes, guns, thugs and FSB dirty tricks and murder?

      April 8, 2014 at 12:24 pm |
    • Rattatouie

      At least America doesn't try to STEAL entire pieces of a country to slap onto their territory!

      You think talking of American transgressions will justify the WHOLESALE THEFT of a nation's sovereign territory?!

      And you go on about protecting ETHNIC RUSSIANS?! RUSSIA is the only country in the world that uses protection of their ethnic group as a PRETEXT TO STEAL OR "ANNEX" another nation's territory!!!

      So what does that mean?! Every single nation with ethnic russians are at risk of being forced to become part of Russia?!

      Throw out the russians from my caribbean island before Russia invades and forces us to become part of their god forsaken country i say!

      April 8, 2014 at 2:17 pm |
    • Gonz

      As a matter of fact, we are a God given nation. You love living under tyranny, fine.

      April 23, 2014 at 8:53 pm |
  3. Terry

    I never realized that this guy is a stooge and apologist for the decades of the U.S. and NATO endangering and ignoring world order!!! The U.S. routinely does whatever the hell it wants and kills millions in political wars, ignores other nation's sovereignity, is recently recognizing violent, illegal, totally undemocratic overthrows of governments as long as our guys who we can control are put in charge (Egypt, Ukraine, etc.). The U.S., NATO, and the EU have repeatedly ignored and stepped on world order-not the Russian Federation. Why aren't you commenting upon NATO promising over and over and over again NOT to absorb east block countries and then blatantly doing so?!?!? You, sir, are a fraud who has sold out for the God awful amounts of money you are probably being for this drivel!!!!

    April 7, 2014 at 10:27 am |
  4. nipp

    Fareed,what kind of synthetic marihuana are you smoking?

    April 7, 2014 at 2:05 pm |
    • Rattatouie

      Work on your english comrade.

      April 8, 2014 at 2:18 pm |
  5. Rick McDaniel

    I see Russia as trying to restore the old Soviet Union, and regaining control over its neighbors. Certainly they will seek to take total control of Ukraine.

    April 7, 2014 at 5:38 pm |
    • rodger olsen

      Russia does want to protect other Russians but they certainly don't want the Ukraine back. They dominated it for about 80 years and it was a huge drain on their finances. In fact, the Soviet Union voted itself out of existence because Russians were tired of supporting the satellites.

      April 8, 2014 at 2:39 am |
  6. rodger olsen

    Fareed: Do you understand that Georgia attacked Russia, not the other way round? Our government scolded them only for "defending themselves too vigorously" (whatever that is) because Georgia was the aggressor. The "evolving international order" you're espousing seems to be "the US does whatever it damned well pleases and all other countries bow before it." That's not likely to be popular outside of the US and Europe.

    April 8, 2014 at 2:36 am |
    • re meir

      Georgia attacked Russia.... Lapdog attacked the elephant

      April 8, 2014 at 9:47 am |
  7. xRedfoxx

    Just what we wanted...a global order!! (sarcasm) No thanks. We'll take the "Always put America First" approach and will work to vote out anyone that doesn't. If you are not loyal to America, then leave.

    April 8, 2014 at 3:35 pm |
  8. Freeman

    re meir

    Georgia attacked Russia.... Lapdog attacked the elephant

    Georgia did NOT attack Russia IDIOT !

    April 8, 2014 at 4:00 pm |
  9. Freeman

    We invaded Afghanistan after they declared war on us by sending terrorists to our soil to kill 2000+ people. We have not taken that country over nor annexed it

    Afghanistan never declared war on America.
    The Hijackers where Saudi's and Kuwaiti's.
    The only country we should have attacked was Saudi Arabia.

    April 8, 2014 at 4:07 pm |
  10. Frijid Apple

    In fact, the Soviet Union voted itself out of existence because Russians were tired of supporting the satellites.

    That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard.
    The Soviet Union collapsed because it spent every penny on its military.
    Are you people this stupid ?
    Voted itself out of existence ?
    NUTS !!!!!

    April 8, 2014 at 4:12 pm |
  11. trueteller1

    As a centrist I'm always amazed by the left and the right making statements with little or no analytical thinking. No wonder a growing number of young Americans are now getting their news from a comedian, Jon Stewart. First we station NATO troops in several countries bordering Russia and almost surround Russia in the process. Then we support anti-government protest in Ukraine to overthrow the elected president. To show that we are serious, we sent Sen. John McCain and 7 senators to visit and cheer on the protesters in Kiev. The State Department then dispatched its Assist. Secretary Victoria Nuland to Kiev to pick and choose the new leaders for Ukraine. Who can forget her "F..k the EU" statement? Get this...All this is happening on Russia's border. Here are my questions: What would be the reaction in the US if Russian troops were stationed in Mexico and Canada? What would be our reaction if Russia supported say an anti-government protest in Mexico that resulted in overthrowing the elected president?

    April 11, 2014 at 7:45 pm |
  12. Syed M. MOOSVI

    FARID ! Please analyse INDIA sometimes. MOOSVI

    April 14, 2014 at 11:35 am |
  13. diplomat1ccables

    Very smart insight Fareed. President Obama leadership is exceptional, he first probes any foreign policy crises and gives the best diplomatic solution. As compared to the trigger happy republicans who are always willing to showcase America's military might. Obama has utilized the United State's influence not only to defeat its enemies but he has also been able to unite its allies behind their shared values and beliefs.

    April 17, 2014 at 10:42 am |
  14. Dante Hammel

    11/4/2016 @ 08:36:46: Thanks for the post!

    November 4, 2016 at 8:36 am |
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