Using sanctions is a pointless effort

Economic sanctions are symbolic gestures, an expression of national pique, and remarkably useless in changing any government's behavior.

U.S. exports to Russia are $11 billion a year. We import $30 billion from Russia. So where's our leverage? Trade between the United States and Russia is relatively minor. For example, California alone exports $170 billion worldwide.

Inhibiting buyers and sellers is harmful to both since a completed sale meets the needs of both. Sanctions will hurt U.S. buyers and sellers. An absolutely predictable result of economic sanctions is to raise nationalistic feelings against the imposer government, encouraging the sanctioned government to further actions but with greater popular support.

Ukrainians show little inclination to defend their sovereignty. They march, shout, complain and dither; they don't attack the invaders. Where's their outrage and national pride?

Ukraine has 46 million people; Russia 143 million. Resistance can cause Russia immeasurable harm. Think of Russia in the 1980s, defeated in Afghanistan by a small group of Afghans within a small country.

Europe is much more vulnerable to Russian retaliation. Why is this our fight?

Joe Moran

Orinda

Europe would pay the consequences

I don't favor imposing economic sanctions against Russia because the repercussions will fall on Europe rather than the United States.

Europe's emerging from a recession. They're divided and squabbling among themselves. Europe could be hurt badly by Russia pulling oil and gas exports.

President Barack Obama's administration has drawn lines, "reset" relations with Russia and canceled missile-defense agreements with Poland and the Czech Republic without consulting the Europeans.

Obama has allowed Vladimir Putin to save the situation in Syria by promising to get rid of Syria's chemical stockpiles. This has led to a decline in respect for the United States. We must change our restrictive liquefied natural gas export regulations and allow U.S. petroleum exports.

The administration says Russia's using 19th century behavior; I believe Putin's using 15th century behavior. He seems to have taken Niccolo Machiavelli's "The Prince" to heart and implemented Machiavelli's direction well.

Obama, a solipsist, apparently believes his policies are best, that he will make the United States beloved and cherished by the world. His policies haven't done that. Actions speak louder than words.

Gregg Manning

Clayton

U.S. hypocritical on use of sanctions

Yes, severe economic sanctions should be imposed against Russia for its unwarranted aggression.

However, I do not support economic sanctions against the United States for aggressive actions and incursions against the following countries: Vietnam, Panama, Grenada, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Iraq, Serbia, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iran, and numerous other regions throughout the world.

Isn't this inconsistent? Not so fast. In the immortal words of Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, when asked about sanctions resulting in an estimated half million Iraqi children starving to death: "We think the price was worth it."

As a special country, our sanctions are worth the price paid in blood by the citizens of less-enlightened regions, aren't they? Surely, the people of Russia and Ukraine will similarly appreciate the tender mercies of the U.S. government.

Vladimir Putin is offering Ukraine the facade of democracy, along with power and money for his hand-picked lieutenants, not at all like our strategy for countries that we've "assisted." See the difference?

Jim Mellander

El Sobrante

Impose sanctions if they are needed

President Barack Obama has two choices concerning Ukraine: military force or sanctions.

Since most of our young men and women who are willing to give all (and some have) are "warred-out" fighting the unnecessary war in Iraq, we would have to bring back the draft and raise taxes to pay for another war, not cut taxes as the Bush administration did.

Thanks to the Iraq War, we are out of willing manpower and money that some chicken-hawk warriors in Congress caused. Therefore, unless they are willing to put some skin in the game, they should shut up and let the adults try to work it out with diplomacy. If that doesn't work, then tough sanctions should be used, because Vladimir Putin must be stopped, now!

Putin knows what shape we are in -- and it isn't because Obama is weak, as the Republicans keeps pushing. They forget that Putin did the same thing in the last months of the Bush administration when he invaded Georgia. And, I might add, the Russians are still there.

Johnny Strawther

Antioch

Putin's actions do present real peril

The United States must be prepared to enforce strong economic sanctions on Russia.

We have seen the havoc a madman can wreak on Europe, and enabling nuclear terrorists with a show of weakness would be insane.

Vladimir Putin's grab for Crimea will damage him in the long run, because it will just push western Ukraine further toward Europe. However, if the United States and Europe don't take concrete action, whatever the wisdom of Putin's thinking, they do so at their extreme peril.

There are a number of diplomatic avenues that need to be explored. European countries may not cooperate, and Americans may say that it's a European problem. Also, I think everyone should give Russia a reasonable opportunity to exit the stage with some dignity.

But if Putin refuses to relent, I think our general course is clear. We have moral and pragmatic concerns here, and they require that we act.

However questionable some may think of several of our foreign adventures in the past, very few would have anything but pride in our leadership here.

Daniel Mauthe

Livermore

Kerry and Obama should be quiet

Russia acted in support of the Russian-speaking population, who's being threatened with the banning of their language and other physical harm by a coup orchestrated by the U.S., via Victoria Nuland and John Kerry.

President Barack Obama and Kerry's sanctimonious declarations of "defense of democracy and civil rights," as well as of "international treaties" sound hypocritical considering the United States' invasions of Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, etc. -- in addition to the criminal daily bombing in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, etc., with unmanned drones; all countries located thousands of miles away from the U.S. borders.

What kind of measures should the world take against the United States? Oh yes, the United States always gets "invited" to intervene by some local stooges or act "to protect our interests."

If Obama and Kerry had a shred of decency, they'd stay silent.

Leo T. West

San Leandro