The Russian military intervention caught many foreign policy analysts by surprise. Articles explaining why Russia wouldn't intervene ran in Foreign Affairs, Time, and the New York Times even the intelligence community was caught off guard according to the Daily Beast (hat tip to Ben Domenech for his post on this in The Federalist). Events have proven them wrong.
The conflict in Ukraine is not simply a regional crisis. Asian nations are watching to see whether a revanchist great power can launch a military attack against a pro-Western neighbor with impunity. There are nine lessons Asians will be looking to learn from the biggest security crisis in Europe since the end of the Cold War.
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.