“We look at the Crimea, and we see exactly the same parallels,” Sathasivam said.
Hitler subsequently occupied the rest of Czechoslovakia and then went on to press German claims for the largely German-speaking city of Danzig, now a part of Poland called Gdansk.
The situation that gives rise to such actions repeats itself all over the world, Sathasivam said. China could easily use it to justify interference with its neighbors.
“East Asia has a huge Chinese diaspora. It becomes a nightmare situation,” he said.
During the Cold War, the response to Soviet violence in Hungary, East Germany and Czechoslovakia was blunted by the reality of the nuclear weapons held by both East and West. Although the warheads remain, Sathasivam suggested that the end of the Cold War era should give the U.S. and its allies more flexibility in responding. He proposes escalating actions, including trade restrictions and barring the Russians from international forums and associations.
“A lot of financial pressure can be brought on the Russians,” he said.
A later option might be a show of force, such as sending U.S. troops to Eastern European countries as a kind of trip wire.
“Send a few American ships into the Black Sea,” Sathasivam said.
He acknowledged, however, that Western European countries with small armies and navies might be reluctant to act. Moreover, the U.S. administration’s announcement of a cutback in the size of the military has come at a bad time.
Nor does Sathasivam, whose special field is “international rivalries,” believe it likely that President Barack Obama will respond with the necessary force or threat of force. Rather, he said, the White House will likely follow the advice of people like Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, National Security Adviser Susan Rice and Vice President Joe Biden.