go to top

The Realist Prism: On Ukraine, Obama Tethered to Domestic Politics

Friday, March 14, 2014

Acting Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk traveled to Washington on Wednesday to plead for urgent U.S. help for his country, especially emergency assistance in coping with the country’s dire economic straits. Yet two polls of U.S. public opinion released this week will be little comfort to those pundits who advocate a more assertive American foreign policy, particularly in dealing with the current crisis in Ukraine. The Pew Center released data indicating that 56 percent of Americans eschew any major U.S. involvement in Ukraine, especially in confronting Russia over the situation in Crimea. A related CNN poll reveals only 6 percent agreeing with the proposition that the United States would face a crisis if Crimea were to be annexed by Russia—and 52 percent are against giving U.S. economic aid to the new administration in Kiev.

This does not mean that Americans believe that Russia should pay no price for what has transpired; the CNN poll indicated that 59 percent of Americans would support imposing sanctions on Moscow. The flip side is that nearly 40 percent opposed even these measures, not surprising given that some major U.S. companies, particularly in the energy, automotive and consumer goods sectors, either have large investments in Russia or have benefited from the growing demand of a rising Russian middle class. And despite a steady stream of U.S. politicians and opinion leaders proclaiming Russian President Vladimir Putin to be the next Hitler and ominously warning of the grave danger in letting Russian actions in Crimea go unchallenged, interrupting commerce seems to be as far as most Americans are willing to go. There is almost no appetite for risking a military confrontation over something that most Americans do not see as a vital interest. ...

To read more,

enter your email address then choose one of the three options below.

Subscribe to World Politics Review and you'll receive instant access to 10,000+ articles in the World Politics Review Library, along with new comprehensive analysis every weekday . . . written by leading topic experts.