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The U.S. Needs a More Ambitious Role in Ukraine and Gaza

Author: Richard N. Haass, President, Council on Foreign Relations
August 7, 2014
Washington Post

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The United States is working to increase sanctions against Russia for its destabilization of Ukraine and is trying to extend a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. But activity in and of itself is not a strategy. In both instances, the question arises: activity toward what end?

The answers are not obvious. In Ukraine, the United States seeks an outcome that may not be achievable; in Gaza, U.S. policy needs to transcend the immediate crisis and recast the basic dynamics of the conflict.

The goal of U.S. policy vis-a-vis Russia appears to be to increase the economic pain until President Vladimir Putin backs down. But Putin is too invested in what he has done to simply give up; if he did so, he could well put his own future in jeopardy. There is, too, the fact that what he is doing enjoys wide support throughout Russia; this could change, but change will come slowly. In the meantime, Russia's increased involvement in Ukraine—and what looks to be preparations for a possible invasion— raises the threat of that country's further dismemberment, a wider war or both.

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