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The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must1 wrote the Athenian general, historian and philosopher Thueydides m his History of the Peloponnesian War. regarded as one of the earliest surviving works of history. A stem reminder of tins enduring lesson of ~realpolitik" was provided in March 2014 when Russian forces seized control of the Crimean peninsula from the Ukraine in an almost bloodless operation. Russia's military action a response to the February 2014 revolution in Ukraine that had seen the installation of a pro-European government in Kiev, lias been subject to considerable international criticism and the imposition of limited sanctions by the European Union and the United States. However, as was the case with respect to its invasion of Georgia in 2008, Russia's willingness to flex its military muscle lias allowed it to achieve its key objectives, in this case the security of its Black Sea Fleet's main naval base at Sevastopol and the protection of Crimea's ethnic Russian population. The inability of the United States - and of its European allies - to respond decisively to Russia's actions in the Ukraine lias come at a time when the limitations of its global influence have started to become more apparent. For example, the Obama administration's failure to act on its previous 'red line" and undertake action against the Syrian chemical weapons attacks on regime opponents lias significantly weakened its regional credibility* at a time when key regional allies such as Saudi Arabia have become disconcerted about a possible rapprochement with ban. There lias inevitably been much criticism of the administration's lack of action from political opponents, as well as from some more independent commentators. However, its stance arguably reflects the reality of limited public support for further overseas military adventures after the long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the need to prioritise defence resources in an era of lower military budgets. Against this backdrop, the United States" hard-headed focus on protecting its Asia-Pacific interests through the Pivot to the Pacific' is undoubtedly correct...