Tumult in Ukraine and Venezuela in recent weeks has overshadowed a consequential regional election taking place this Sunday, March 9. Voters in El Salvador will go to the polls in a second round to choose from between two starkly different candidates. The result could shape Central American politics for the next several years -- and not necessarily for the better.
Despite an avalanche of commentary, I think there are still a few things left to be said -- or, more to the point, left to be asked. Here is my list of five:
Or: Why Russia's President Thought He Could Get Away With It
Few would have predicted even a month ago that Ukraine would escalate from a regional challenge into one of the most significant tests of the Obama presidency. As events unfold and the Obama administration begins to marshal its response, it is worth taking up the prior question: why did Putin decide he could get away with this aggression in the first place? Some other Shadow Government contributors have already started to address this. My former NSC colleague Mike Singh rightly highlights what appears to be the administration's failure of contingency planning, and below Paul Bonicelli thoughtfully explores the ideological presuppositions behind President Obama's worldview.
My Shadow colleagues Inboden and Tobey offer insightful advice for the Obama administration regarding Ukraine; here, I offer a reason why we have come to need their advice.
There exists an unmistakable view in the Middle East and beyond that the United States, exhausted from war and consumed by domestic political and economic troubles, is inexorably retreating from the region. American paralysis in Syria, confusion in Egypt, and stumbles elsewhere have fed allies' suspicions that the United States can no longer be relied upon.