If You Want to Shame Russia, Words Aren't Enough

A preliminary-round match of women’s ice hockey between the United States and Olympic Athletes from Russia, February 13, 2018. Reuters/Grigory Dukor

This is a dangerous and unstable approach to dealing with Russia: strong rhetoric backed by lukewarm action.

Here, Walter Lippman’s advice remains as relevant today as it did seventy years ago: when it comes to Russia, we cannot have an imbalance between our statements and our actions. Haphazard sanctions, military gestures and grand statements will neither deter Russia nor bring about a change in action. We must either rightsize the rhetoric to align with the punitive force we are willing to employ, or sit down and bargain, from a position of strength, acceptable compromises. The 2018 games show us the futility of employing the shaming tactic if it is not backed by something more substantial.

Nikolas K. Gvosdev is the Captain Jerome E. Levy chair of economic geography and national security at the Naval War College. He is also a contributing editor to the National Interest. The views expressed here are his own.

Image: A preliminary-round match of women’s ice hockey between the United States and Olympic Athletes from Russia, February 13, 2018. Reuters/Grigory Dukor

 

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