You can't build the world from the backseat.
Either we're in it or we're not.
Instead, Russia has jumped into the driver's seat, and we're not coming out looking too good on the world stage.
- In 2013 they took in and continue to shelter Edward Snowden, the former CIA employee who ran to Hong Kong after allegedly leaking oodles of NSA classified information.
- In 2014, Russia conducted a blitzkrieg and took Crimea from sovereign Ukraine (giving it a strategic port in the Black Sea), and are conducting a separatist war in the eastern part of the country.
- In 2015, Russia enters the Syrian crisis and allies themselves with dictator, Bashar Al Assad (who has used chemical weapons on his own people), as well as with Iran and Iraq.
- Additionally, Russia is taking the lead role in the oil and mineral rich Arctic bolstering their presence and militarizing, including building new ice-breakers (while our Coast Guard has only one operational).
Some people have said mockingly, "Well what should we do, start a war with Russia?"
And the answer is an unequivocal, no.
But I assume they don't want to start a war with the U.S. either.
Rather, this is the Cold War Part II, where we are fighting by proxy in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the Arctic.
If we want the world to be modeled on freedom, human rights, and democracy then we need to be able to stand up for those things that are important to us.
Yes, we have to care about what's going on here at home too, but we don't live in a bubble, although surrounded by oceans on the east and west coast, we can sometimes easily feel that way.
It's a big world--and it takes tremendous leadership to bring it along a good and noble path.
The leadership role will not stay vacant for long...it can be us if we want it, or else you might as well flip a coin on either Russia or China. ;-)
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)