Looked at separately, each level of this daisy chain may appear hopelessly immune to change, making the suggestions offered here appear sadly impractical. But if one steps back from considering each narrowly and reflects on the stakes involved when the three levels are approached as a whole, policymakers in Moscow, Washington, and European capitals might have second thoughts about their current fractured and self-absorbed way of defining and addressing the Ukrainian crisis. In Washington and Moscow, they might even pause their single-minded prosecution of their currently congealed Cold War and think harder about a workable path out of it. Otherwise, the unknowns that lie ahead are potentially large and dark, maybe even the “guns of August.”
Robert Legvold is the Marshall D. Shulman Professor Emeritus in the Department of Political Science at Columbia University.