The Crisis of Crimea and Ukraine

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The Crisis of Crimea and Ukraine

Key Lessons for President Obama from Presidents Reagan and Clinton

SOURCE: AP/Greg Gibson
President Bill Clinton reads a statement at the conclusion of the NATO 50th anniversary summit, Sunday April 25, 1999, in the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington.
By Rudy deLeon and Aarthi Gunasekaran | May 14, 2014
In the past two months, the Crimea and Ukraine crisis has grown. Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula, the Ukrainian government and pro-Russian militia are engaged in a back and forth standoff in eastern Ukraine, and Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened that the conflict “essentially puts the nation on the brink of civil war.” The United States has been at the forefront of building international support for Ukraine, and the Obama administration continues to assemble Western support. However, efforts to reach a diplomatic settlement, or at least to reduce immediate tensions, are still in progress.
As the Obama administration prepares its next steps in response to Russia in Ukraine, it can examine lessons from two other administrations in times of crisis. First, the Reagan administration’s reaction in 1983 to the Soviet downing of a civilian Korean airliner and its response to the terrorist attack against U.S. Marines on a peacekeeping mission in Lebanon. Second, the Clinton administration’s initiative to proactively expand and deepen partnerships in Europe during the 1990s through its Partnership for Peace.
President Ronald Reagan faced an exceptional provocation with the downing of the Korean airliner and a month later, with the terrorist attack against U.S. Marines in Lebanon, resulting in significant American and allied casualties. Keeping costly and possibly destabilizing military options as his last resort, President Reagan used vigorous but measured words to condemn these lawless actions and rallied…...

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