“The Ukrainian conflict has gone on far too long, and it has become far too dangerous. There is one man who can stop it — President Vladimir Putin of Russia.”
In the intervening months, the media’s assessment of Putin has only grown harsher, with his actions in Ukraine being seen as a possible prelude to a full-scale Russian invasion, along the lines of his 2008 takeover of two provinces in the nation of Georgia.
But this analysis is dangerously unbalanced.
While Putin has made many missteps in the Ukrainian crisis–and many in Georgia in 2008–the West is far from blameless. If, as the Times asserts, it’s all Putin’s fault, then the U.S. and its allies have few options beyond waiting for him to have a sudden change of heart.
But if the West can acknowledge its own mistakes and start to rectify them, that might point the way to resolving the current conflict before it escalates further, even possibly to nuclear threats.
In considering options, let’s first look at the perception that Ukraine is a repeat of Putin’s land-grab in Georgia. That in turn has been compared to Hitler’s dismemberment of Czechoslovakia 70 years earlier. This analogy, with its hot-button allusion to the West’s appeasement of Nazi Germany at Munich in 1938, was promoted by, among others, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
But in fact, it was one-sided coverage in the mainstream Western media that created the false impression that Putin alone was responsible for the 2008 Russian-Georgian War. Disregarded in this coverage was a finding by European Union investigators that Georgia, backed by the West, had in fact fired the first shots. The EU ultimately found blame on both sides. …