The Russian military takeover of the Crimea shows that national power doesn’t come from the barrel of a gun, but from the “capacity to inspire,” according to President Barack Obama’s national security advisor.
And that power of inspiration must be used by American diplomats “to decry laws that would lock people up because of who they love and to find new ways to protect vulnerable members of the [worldwide] LGBT community,” National Security Adviser Susan Rice told an assembly of U.S. diplomats on Tuesday.
“Events in Ukraine bear out a fundamental truth about U.S. leadership in the 21st century,” she announced. “Real power is not the ability to intimidate and coerce, but rather the capacity to inspire people through the example of our values and the ability to rally other nations to meet shared challenges,” she declared at the Department of State’s Global Chiefs of Mission Conference.
“Even as we speak,” she said, “many of our most talented diplomats are working around-the-clock to redress the situation in Ukraine and to de-escalate tensions with Russia.”
But the diplomacy is not going well.
Russian soldiers have pushed Ukrainian soldiers out of naval bases, captured ammunition depots and seized airfields in the Crimea. They have also arrested and intimidated peaceful protestors, inspired ethnic Russian protestors in the eastern parts of the Ukraine, and helped ethnic-Russian separatists schedule a secession vote in Crimea for March 16.
As the nation’s top diplomat, Obama has talked to more than 10 foreign leaders, but has won no significant international restrictions on Russians’ travel, cash transfers, or sales of natural gas to dependent European countries. His Monday talk with China’s president, for example, yielded nothing.
He’s slated to meet Wednesday with embattled Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk of Ukraine.
The two “will discuss how to find a peaceful resolution to Russia’s ongoing military intervention in Crimea that would respect Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity… [and what] support the international community can provide to help Ukraine confront its economic challenges,” said the White House statement.
Despite Obama’s apparent focus on the Ukrainian crisis, Rice barely mentioned the subject in her talk to diplomatic officials.
She mentioned Ukraine twice and Russia once, for example.