Ukraine and International Law
It can be true that we as a country squandered our time as the global hegemon by degrading international laws and norms, breaking rules of sovereignty, and deposing leaders post The Cold War, but that does not justify Putin invading Ukraine. During this conflict, I have been willing to acknowledge that our interventions with soft or hard power globally, especially in Libya, Kosovo, and Iraq, have been aimed at regime change or meddling in other nations’ affairs. Our meddling gave space for thugs like Putin to justify breaking international laws just as we did. Putin sounded similar to President Bush. Putin claimed Ukraine posed a security concern to Russia. Making claims of the development of WMDs, even dusting off claims of nazi terrorists. Those claims and his actions make clear Finlandization of Ukraine or protecting the two republics he recognized are not his aim.
This brings me back to the issue while we work within the rules and break them in emergencies and believed our cause was just bad state actors do not. I have criticized my President and our state department for not trying harder to give diplomatic offramps, but Putin’s actions are his and his alone. Putin must be stopped to prevent future provocations and further erosion of the rules-based order. Building NATO into a stronger defensive bulwark and expanding must be on the table in response to an aggressive Russia. This may have been controversial before but Russia has removed any veneer of them being anything other than a nation trying to use force to carry out their ambitions to subjugate Europe.
Russia should be treated pariah state their expulsion from The UN should be on the table. Russia is not following the membership requirement of being a peace-seeking nation. While the USSR is a permanent member, Russia is not the USSR that time is over, and letting them be a permanent member on the council has inflated their ego. Even if Russia is not expelled from the UN or removed from the Security Council, we need to rebuild the UN. Keeping sanctioning and removing access to the global banking system is punishment but we need better accountability and diplomacy. We need to increase the number of peacekeepers and the scope of their peacekeeping missions. Their Missions should include more deployments to regions in conflict to decrease hostilities and to protect civilians. We need to expand the diplomatic channels available to and for member nations. As we deploy peacekeepers, they should also mediate and encourage talks between nations in conflict. Finally, we need to empower the ICC and judicial powers of The UN to adjudicate and process crimes. Not having clear penalties and rules leaves too much in question and risks more conflicts as nations see no cost to their violations. It is not enough to punish Putin we have to fix the system.
(I want to make clear I think we should have tried to find a diplomatic solution but lacked the capability or capacity fixing norms and institutions could give us both.)