Notes on the crisis, Part II
In your list of all the aggressive things the Russians have done, you left out their financial support for all the Green parties and organizations that have successfully lobbied the reduction of European and American energy production to the point that Putin may have thought European countries were so dependent on Russia's gas, oil and coal that they would not dare support Ukraine in any meaningful way.
Just to throw in my 2 bits.
I think the invasions of Russia by Napolean and Hitler taught lessons to the old guard Russians now in power that are different from the lessons learned by Europe and the West.
The Russians learned from those experiences, enhanced by the slant on history taught in their schools, that everyone, in particular the Europeans and Americans, want to and will attempt to conquer Russia at the first opportunity.
The West learned from those same invasions that whatever the human and natural resources in Russia, they are not worth the effort it would take to conquer Russia.
The West doesn’t think Russia is worth bothering with. The Russians think that they are so important that everyone wants to attack them.
I think the old school Russians are really annoyed that the West would really prefer to ignore them.
This isn’t everything that’s going on. I also suspect that the steroids, think roid-rage, necessary to keep a 73-year-old that buff may be in play.
It is also true that a dictator’s hold on power is always threatened by prosperous neighbors whose citizens have greater individual liberty than their own people.
Understanding the Russian leaders are irrationally paranoid may help us understand what is going on. It doesn’t mean we should let them have their way.
The Russians concerns about weapons on their borders are real to them, even if they are only imagining those weapons or their purpose. We should understand but not accept their view.
Only when this mindset is out of power will Russia cease to be a source of aggression and war.
Interesting and useful exchange.
Disclaimer - I'm in the west, and geographically about as far from the current centre of action as it's possible to get.
I think Claire makes the point very well - Putin (and not just Putin, but those who come after him in Russia, and the other dictators around the world) are not going to stop trying to grab for more. Like Poland in 1939, Ukraine has brought that into focus for a lot of us who didn't see it or didn't think about it when it was Chechnya, or Georgia, or Syria.
Liberal Democracy/"the west"/whatever we call it is not perfect - far from it, in many times and places - but it is better than most or all of the alternatives for the people who live in it, and it is objectively better for its citizens than Putin's Russia is for Russians, let alone the hell hole that a Putin-controlled bombed-out Ukraine is going to be for Ukrainians.
The only way to stop the Putins of the world is to stand up to them. That brings risk, but if we are not prepared to risk what we already have to prevent more of the world turning to despotism, maybe we don't deserve what we have, to coin a phrase.
And if the west is going to stand up to Putin, there can be no prevaricating, no wavering or blurring of the lines. Absent an internal revolution within the Russian power structure, or an act of god that takes Putin out of the equation, he has to be forced to blink, or to make good on his bluff.
That's a huge risk, but the alternative is to admit that the western project is done, and shuffle off to enjoy our comfortably decadent lives and wait for the final curtain.
I do think the way the events have gone down over the past few days has shown the futility of the more universalist foreign policy of vision of people like Michael Pregent and the triumphalism of the more cynical European centered vision of people like Emmanuel Macron. Does Macron view European lives as more valuable as Middle Eastern ones you betcha? What is Michael going to do about it? Not much I suspect as Zelensky seems to have nominated Macron as his main inculcator in the west and Macron as seen as man of the hour.
Something I do think the international reaction to Russia's invasion shows is you can do a lot of bad things on the international stage like Russia in Syria or even the USSR in Afghanistan. The one thing you can't do is what Saddam tried to do 1900 with Kuwait or what Russian is trying to do now which is to invade and try to wipe off the map another United Nations Member State. Would people like Michael and Claire probably be right to say that the fact this in "only" bad thing you can do to really get condemned by intl community shows a certain moral bankruptcy? Probably, but what exactly are they going to do about. At this point who cares about Syria in the context of the French election and what is happening in Ukraine. Hell, who really cares about it anymore in the US.
Part I says it is private, and I can't get to it. FYI. Am I on the outs?