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How should the U.S. respond to conflicts in Ukraine and Israel?

July 22, 2014 - Andrea Johnson
This is the kind of week that has reminded me of just how easy it would be for the smallest of tragedies to provoke World War III.

One hundred years ago, Austrian Archduke Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated by a Serbian in Sarajevo. If the deaths hadn't been so tragic, the whole event could best be described as a comedy of errors, with multiple assassins along the parade route who failed in their attempts to kill the royals ... until one finally succeeded. Thus began the bloody four-year conflict that claimed so many lives and changed history forever. If not for losing World War I, Germany would not have been so demoralized and so ripe for the rise of the Nazis in the 1920s. If not for the Nazis, there would have been no second World War.

Though no one knows for certain what actually happened or who was responsible, last week a Malaysian airline was apparently targeted and shot down over Ukraine, which is in the middle of civil war. Personally, I doubt that the airline was intentionally targeted. There would be no political or tactical advantage for either the Russians or the Ukrainians to take down a civilian plane filled with so many international travelers.

It sounds to me like a group of bumbling Ukrainian separatists, maybe guided by Russian officers nearby or from afar, saw the plane and took aim without realizing that it was the Malaysian airliner. Aboard were hundreds of innocent people – AIDS researchers, families on vacation, business travelers. In the aftermath of the horrendous tragedy those responsible are scrambling and rather ineptly trying to cover up the evidence and come up with a cover story, probably because they realize it could provoke World War III.

No one in the West really wants to go to war with Russia or Ukraine, but amends must be made, so we condemn the action and impose sanctions. The problem with sanctions is that proud and touchy Russians may react violently to that too.

Meanwhile, the latest conflict in Israel all started with the murder of three Israeli boys, possibly by Hamas. Weeks later it has escalated into a bloody ground conflict that has claimed hundreds of lives in the Gaza strip, many of them little children. The casualties fall disproportionately on the Palestinian side. The rockets that are being fired into Israeli territory from the Gaza strip have done comparatively little damage. The U.S. is a staunch Israeli ally, but I can't help but wonder what cost that favoritism has caused us in our other ongoing conflicts in the Middle East.

What actions do you think the U.S. should take regarding the conflicts in Ukraine and Israel?


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