I have neither the time or depth of knowledge to make this a scholarly post.
We celebrate the opportunities and economic challenges of a flattened world. Some win and some lose as commerce, investment, and jobs flow more freely since the end of the Cold War, that “last” gasp of centuries of imperial expansion and competition amongst a handful of nations powerful enough to export control beyond their natural borders. Or was that last gasp merely a breather; a chance for the old guard to let progressive ideology grow soft and accommodating; to believe that interwoven commercial interests trump all moral obligations?
If Russia did not supply natural gas to Western Europe,and American and European companies had not invested deeply in the Russian economy, armies might be massing on the borders of Ukraine today. What else does Russia offer in return for its unilateral return to the same annexation tactics that Hitler used in the run-up to WW II? Why else do we let a bully run wild? Will we draw the line at Crimea, or will Putin realize his dream of re-absorption of Ukraine into the Russian Empire?
It may be that our only pragmatic weapon in a war of interdependent opponents is also commercial. Every Russian oligarch, those who support Putin and those who don’t, has banked most of his wealth outside of Russia. I know; I was there when the robbery started in 1991. They are not stupid; they converted rubles to expatriated currency as fast as possible then and they still do it today because they know that Russia-as-a-nation is a corrupt, bad bet.
Freeze every penny of Russian money outside their borders. Redirect gas shipments from all over the world before next winter. Flattened worlds work in many ways. Russia needs the West vastly more than we need them. Maybe Crimea should be part of Russia; I don’t know. But an inch beyond and we just lost the Cold War to a KGB chess player who would have made Josef Stalin proud.
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