Many reviewers of Crossing Savage point to the similarities between the fictional plot and the conflict in Ukraine. I was discussing this question two days ago during an interview for KWCC (Wenatchee, WA)—three hours later I heard the news that flight MH17 had been downed over Eastern Ukraine. It is all but certain that the civilian airliner with 298 passengers was shot down by an advanced Russian radar-guided missile. What is less certain is whether the pro-Russian militia acted alone or if their deed was enabled by direct actions from the Russian military.
Until now, the heavy fighting has been confined to the Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. Vladimir Putin argues that Russian is justified to defend ethnic Russians residing in Ukraine, using direct and indirect means. Putin has taken the extraordinary steps of annexing the Crimean Peninsula; Eastern Ukraine is likely next. With Europe receiving more than a third of its natural gas from Russia, the EU has little real leverage to stop Russian aggression. And the US has no appetite to enter a new conflict in Europe as we are winding down our wars in the Middle East.
- Europe should offer military support, especially ground troops, to Ukraine to bring an end to the militias and destroy their surface to air missiles. The UN must support this goal and means. Once done, the border crossings with Russia need to be secured and monitored by the UN to halt unchecked (and undocumented) transfer of weapons and soldiers.
- The US must accelerate export of LNG and, if necessary, oil to Europe in order to free Europe from dependence on Russian energy resources. This will require intense political support from both parties, but it is necessary.
- Washington needs to adopt a long-term energy plan (as in decades long) that speaks to the national interests of the US. How does this happen with the least productive Congress in decades? That responsibility falls on our shoulders, the voters. Until we hold our elected representatives responsible for conducting the business of the Nation, in the best interest of the Nation, nothing will change for the better.
It remains to be seen if European leaders have the resolve to stand up to Putin and the atrocities committed by the pro-Russian militias acting as proxy armies of the Russian Federation. If they do it will be painful, but the murdered crew and passengers on MH17 were mostly citizens of European countries.
The broader danger is the US has no functional, sustainable long-term energy policy. This leaves the US and our allies vulnerable to aggression as is evident in the Middle East and Ukraine. The solution is at hand—the technical knowledge and capability exists. The buck stops with us, the voters. If we do not insist our representatives conduct business in the interest of the US as a whole (not isolated regions and corporate special interests) then nothing will change.