Before we discuss how the West can meet the threats posed by the Russian Federation and that by ISIL, let's formulate the problem properly. What's the reason behind rising conflicts all over the globe?
The fact is that except for a minority, though still significant one, majority of the people want to excel economically. But they also want to see that their arguments are also considered seriously by others. If it were not the idea of shared prosperity by inducing derivative and surrogate capabilities, the world would have been completely different place than what it is now.
The West is the lead producer and a provider of capital and know-how. But then the world requires high level of production and equitable consumption to grow. Now the time at present is dominated by rising, conflicting and competing consciousness. People want to see similar people dominating the scene. That is not always possible.
There is another thing at vogue: consumerism induced nationalism and its reverse. Both rising consciousness and rising nationalism demand that there be some re-labeling of capabilities and products to make them psychologically more amenable and acceptable.
There is only one way to sell stably in those parts of the globe which are not that innovating or come somewhere in between and that is to inflate hopes and non-economic inflation of the people and state. This is true for more economic selfish people and such attempts almost always accompany the West inducing illiteracy all over the globe.
Now this is true about non-Western, non-Islamic part. For the Islamic world the picture is slightly different. It is the dawn of consciousness in the Islamic world. The fact is that it was mostly passive when the rest of the world was shaken by events in Europe in late eighties and early nineties of the last century.
Muslims are now adjusting to newly found consciousness. The Islamic societies together with adaptation to new tools make many among Muslims nationalists, many more consumerists and still more Islamists and many hybrids. Now every one wants his and her dream world and this is not an illegitimate demand. But then worlds could be so completely different and this is truest about the Islamic societies when compared with the West. Many of them want to advance in terms of access to facilities and luxuries but still Islamism would be dominant themes.
Now all societies have distributions and because of that a majority of Muslims in Muslim-dominated societies want Islamic code to be implemented. Usually people are not matured and sophisticated to live their lives as per their laws and also allow people different from them their own. The imposition of Shariah laws may not only put such societies in conflict with the West but also make the majorities suppress their respective minorities. Therefore, consciousness is also abrasive for Muslims many times.
So what's the solution? Honestly speaking the West should reduce the rate of spread of higher levels illiteracies and bring down the non-economic inflation to more moderate levels, even if it means sacrificing some of its economic goals. But then this may not be feasible as most of us have deep passions and urge to dominate others.
All needs to understand that the NATO is a military-political organization and therefore, it may not have deep understanding of psychology-laced economics. However, the situation in Eastern Ukraine, Iraq and Syria requires mostly the military attention but surely with some understanding of politics and economics.
Let's see what are the possible solutions for the three much discussed nation-states? First of all the NATO and the Pentagon would not like to fight a cold war because of situation in Ukraine and never on the terms of the Russian Federation. The fact is that the Russian military is very powerful though there is a huge asymmetry in the capabilities of Russian and American forces.
Ukraine is not a member of the NATO alliance but feel pressurized by fear of an explicit Russian invasion, it may seek the alliance membership and then the NATO would be duty bound to secure Ukraine territorial sovereignty. Without explaining much I would say that is a very poor way to respond to the situation. The more important question is whether the Pentagon would fight a war with the Russian military on the latter's term and not whether Ukraine should be a member of the NATO.
So what is the better way? To compel Ukraine to understand that there are many people, may be of the order of a million, who do not accept the rule by Kiev. Now the European laws do permit holding referendum and the member states are totally against forceful occupation of people and land. But still upholding sovereignty of Ukraine is of utmost importance.
Thus federalism is the solution with Eastern and South-Eastern Ukraine regions getting genuine autonomy but well short of independence. As a result the Russian Federation is going to increase its say in the region.
As far as Iraq and Syria are concerned, I think very soon the US is going to label ISIL as life-long enemy of the free world and could declare an open military intervention but well short of ground invasion. The fact is that ISIL poses grave threat to the security and interests of the West just like al-Qaeda used to do in the last decade.
President Obama cannot be blamed directly for whatever is happening in Iraq and Syria. But he will have to accept that his policy on the Middle East is minimally a failure. Worse is to come if he does not respond to the situation.
If the Obama administration does not respond to ISIL threats then there could be tens of al-Qaeda and affiliated organizations all over the globe and the US may have to fight what President Obama is totally against: perpetual war against Islam with some Islamic societies at a time. Sure, President Obama would not fight that war but the next US President would have to.
But equally it would be bad if the US join hands with Mr. Assad and his forces. The fact is that many Sunnis would not welcome any US action against ISIL. This is the reality and one must accept it. But the situation could become worse if the US makes friendly overtures towards Mr. Assad. The fact is that Mr. Assad has brutally suppressed Sunni majority in Syria and Sunnis would explode then as a result of the US policy. It would be very difficult to control them thereafter.
Mind you, Sunni extremism promotes Shiite militancy and vice versa. Containing them with each cancelling other with foolishly hypothetical residual remains is minimally a fantasy and myth in reality. Also, this fact cannot be forgotten that Sunnis constitute 70% of global Muslim population and therefore, their opinions matter more than those of Shiites.
The fact is that many new wars are forced upon the US and I think that the US shall have to fight few of them, willy-nilly though. The NATO and its boss the Pentagon are militarily well equipped though they would have to worry about other aspects of international life.