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the Ukraine really isn't that important to anyone except Russia, and really should never have been staked out as a NATO objective in the first place
The flashpoint here was not NATO, but the EU. I suspect the US foreign policy establishment must be really pissed off at the way the EU (and Merkel) has handled Ukraine. Total fantasist rookies, if you ask me.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 4th, 2014 at 04:50:58 AM EST
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I read somewhere that Ukraine is a job for EU to show itself relevant.
by das monde on Fri Apr 4th, 2014 at 05:20:38 AM EST
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They have their job cut out for them.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 4th, 2014 at 05:30:26 AM EST
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I suspect the US foreign policy establishment must be really pissed off at the way the EU (and Merkel) has handled Ukraine. Total fantasist rookies, if you ask me.

Mutual scapegoating? In the other pan of the balance put Victoral Nuland, $5 billion in US aid, the US AID,l and everything else that came up with a bunch of foaming fascists and flag-waving Nazis as their accomplishment. Is it even clear that the US opposed the EU's 'us or them' offer? I suspect the focus was on who would get the prize.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Apr 4th, 2014 at 10:18:18 AM EST
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I suspect the US foreign policy establishment must be really pissed off at the way the EU (and Merkel) has handled Ukraine. Total fantasist rookies, if you ask me.

Unlike the perfect execution of the Iraq and Afghanistan adventures, I suppose?

Look, the entire European establishment bought into the idea we had a post-realist world order in Europe. They didn't even have the phrase "sphere of influence" enter their heads during the trade negotiations with Ukraine last fall, because they don't think in those terms any longer. I've kept telling people for years this is totally wrong, but they needed this kind of brutal wake-up call to get it.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sat Apr 5th, 2014 at 03:05:24 PM EST
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Putinism and the Anti-WEIRD Coalition

[...]

Americans of all stripes have a well-honed ability to ignore inconvenient facts, and our better educated citizens seem particularly prone to this (as I noted with our "expert" inability to see what North Korea believes, even though they aren't shy about it). At root, I suspect Obama and many Americans refuse to accept the in-our-face reality of Putin and his regime because they represent a past version of ourselves, caught up in retrograde views that are entirely unacceptable to our elites, therefore they pretend they do not exist, because they don't actually exist in their world.

Simply put, Vladimir Putin is the stuff of Western progressive nightmares because he's what they thought they'd gotten past. He's a traditional male with "outmoded" views on, well, everything: gender relations, race, sexual identity, faith, the use of violence, the whole retrograde package. Putin at some level is the Old White Guy that post-moderns fear and loathe, except this one happens to control the largest country on earth plus several thousand nuclear weapons - and he hates us.

Of course, this also happens to explain why some Westerners who loathe post-modernism positively love Putin, at least from a safe distance. Some far-right Westerners - the accurate term is paleoconservatives - have been saying for years that the West, led very much by America, has become hopelessly decadent and they've been looking for a leader to counter all this, and - lo and behold - here he is, the new "leader of global conservatism." Some paleocons have stated that, with the end of the Cold War, America has become the global revolutionary power, seeking to foist its post-modern views on the whole planet, by force if necessary, and now Putin's Russia has emerged as the counterrevolutionary element. Cold War 2.0, in this telling, has the sides reversed.

[...]

We are entering a New Cold War with Russia, whether we want to or not, thanks to Putin's acts in Ukraine, which are far from the endpoint of where the Kremlin is headed in foreign policy. As long as the West continues to pretend there is no ideological component to this struggle, it will not understand what is actually going on. Simply put, Putin believes that his country has been victimized by the West for two decades, and he is pushing back, while he is seeking partners. We will have many allies in resisting Russian aggression if we focus on issues of freedom and sovereignty, standing up for the rights of smaller countries to choose their own destiny.

However, too much emphasis on social and sexual matters - that is, telling countries how they must organize their societies and families - will be strategically counterproductive.



Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Apr 7th, 2014 at 06:46:31 PM EST
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I am quite familiar with the WEIRD concept, but I don't actually think it applies here, especially between the two groups really making the decisions in this -- Russians and Americans.

On matters of political strategy and military affairs at least, Russians and Americans are so uncannily alike in their thought processes and ways of looking at the world that "mirror image" is really the best way of characterizing them. After all, these are the two peoples who have been studying each other, for billions of man-hours, over a nuclear chess board for almost 70 years now.  That's why so many Americans have man-crushes on Putin, after all. We really do understand and appreciate the guy.  And contrary to what many in the commentariat have been writing in the past few weeks, Putin, and Russians in general, have displayed an amazingly accurate understanding of how Americans think strategically as well.  

by santiago on Wed Apr 9th, 2014 at 01:28:48 AM EST
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Yet the author's points about the differences between Russia's perspectives and those of the USA stand. Especially attitudes about gender and national myths such as The Third Rome and how those factors will work in this situation. While I am certain that there are many others in the US defense and intelligence community who also understand these differences they certainly have not been on display in public pronouncements recently. Steve Cohen has been the most outspoken in US media and his reach is limited. Had having Putin and Russia move more towards western values been a goal the best means would have been to leave Ukraine alone - by both the EU and the USA. All that will happen now is that the views that the WEIRD find objectionable will only be strengthened, at least for the short and medium term. That is just how dialectical processes work.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Apr 9th, 2014 at 01:55:55 PM EST
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Yes, the points about the differences between Russian actions and what I will refer to as the interpretation of the West's "chattering classes" do stand, but not with respect to the actual policy actions of the US or of the defense and policy thinkers who have the most influence on outcomes. Also, they do not stand with respect to the author's own theory of a sort of anti-neoliberal ideological basis for Putin's actions.  

All of Putin's actions, and those of the US, are completely explained the the realist theory of international relations -- that the interests of power always take precedence, and that "the strong will do what they must while the weak can only do what they can."  No ideological explanation is necessary, and it appears doubtful that Putin is really interested at all in anti-neoliberal or any other post-modernist inspired discourse. He has never indicated, in his entire, well publicized life, any interest in such thinking.

Realism, on the other hand, is the same principal of foreign policy (and all policy really) that has dominated thinking in the affairs of statecraft since Thucydides first made the observation, and later re-popularized by Machiavelli,  Henry Kissinger, and now still be taught and argued by people like John Mearsheimer and Steven Walt, as well as having comprised the core pedagogy of both US and Russian military staff colleges for over a century, at least.  

Realism is how US and Russians think and how their soldiers and diplomats have been educated, and it is how they expect the other to interpret events and actions, and nothing that has actually transpired in events in Europe, right down to the infamous "fuck the EU" phone call and exposure by Russia, contradicts a purely realist interpretation of what is going on in both Russian and American policymakers' minds.  Only the blogosphere, and perhaps various EU heads of state, appear to be consistently duped by US and Russian press releases.

by santiago on Wed Apr 9th, 2014 at 03:48:14 PM EST
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Washington and NATO's New Surrealpolitik    Finian Cunningham

--------  As the unelected Kiev junta sends armed balaclava-clad paramilitaries to quell protests in Ukraine's eastern cities it declares the operation «anti-terrorism». The acting (sic) president in Kiev Oleksandr Turchynov has labeled all those seeking political autonomy in Kharkov, Donetsk, Lugansk and other pro-Russian cities in the east of the country as «terrorists and criminals»; a new set of laws cobbled together by the junta - two months before scheduled official elections have taken place and therefore of dubious legality - gives the self-appointed politicians in Kiev the power to prosecute any one that does not recognize their self-imposed authority...

Meanwhile, NATO has warned Moscow to «step back» from alleged military aggression (from within its own borders!) towards Ukraine - even though the US-led alliance has escalated the presence of its fighter jets and troops in Russia's neighboring countries. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, secretary general of the 28-member NATO organization, has also led calls for speeding up the incorporation of Georgia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina into the nuclear-armed pact. This is in addition to a deal hastily worked out by NATO and the NATO-backed junta in Kiev for joint military exercises to be carried out on Ukrainian territory.

This constitutes a new genre of politics, which one might dub «surrealpolitik». The former realpolitik of the bygone Cold War decades may have been cynical and callous, but at least such thinking was based on an objective reality that vying sides could commonly recognize and therefore negotiate. In the new genre of surrealpolitik, one side's version of reality seems more in the realm of fantasy, which makes any dialogue between political contentions nearly, if not totally, impossible.

 

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Apr 11th, 2014 at 09:34:07 PM EST
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From the article cited above:
NATO installs an unelected regime in Kiev through a coup d'état against a legally elected government. That is a fact. Yet in the surreal world of Washington and its NATO allies, this fact is inverted into a fictional notion that what happened in Kiev during February was the culmination of «a democratic revolution». Airbrushed from the objective narrative are details such as the new regime arrogating administrative power through a campaign of Western-backed street violence and terrorism, including the fatal shooting of police officers by covert snipers.

Without supporting evidence, the sniper-assisted regime in Kiev, which was promptly accorded the authority of «government» by Western capitals and their media, has since counter-charged Russian secret services and the ousted President Viktor Yanukovych of orchestrating the shootings. Of course, the incriminating leaked telephone conversation, dated February 26, between EU ministers Catherine Ashton and Estonia's Urmas Paet on Western-backed covert snipers is conveniently deleted from the official Western record.



"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Apr 11th, 2014 at 09:45:04 PM EST
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Perhaps some in Washington and Brussles don't realize that the US Reality Creation Machine's effect does not extend to Ukraine and Russia.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Apr 11th, 2014 at 09:59:42 PM EST
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There's two ways to interpret what is going on when one side is engaged in actual use of agents of force to obtain an objective and the other side, with the same or better force capabilities, does things like merely warn the force-using side to stop, or else...

The wrong interpretation is to imagine that anything new, like a new surrealpolitik paradigm, has infected the thinking of the non-aggressive side, which is what I see all over the blogosphere, like in your blockquote here.

The right interpretation is that the NATO side has already determined that use of force in Ukraine is not worth the effort, so it is writing the Ukraine off but cannot tell that to their allies in the Ukraine and elsewhere because it sounds too ruthless and unsupportive of justice, democracy, and the rule of law, the shared values for which any use of force must be consistent in the first place.  In Realpolitik, when someone uses words and official statements rather than actions, it is code for: you're not that important to us right now.  No one should infer from this that policymakers on the NATO side have a different view of reality at all.

As a young community organizer in Chicago, President Barrack Obama used to lead intense organizer trainings, called "week-longs" where trainees learned to abandon the "justice junkie" mindset and adopt Saul Alinsky's unique style of Machiavellian street politics. The week's training begins by reading Thucydides' "Milean Dialogue," the core text for the Realist school of international relations. The exercise that Obama, like all trainers then, like now, taught was to divide the trainees into the Melians and Athenians, and let them try to negotiate an outcome.  One of the key lessons was to not think like the stupid, self-righteous, but sympathetic Melians, but to think instead as ruthlessly and strategic as the Athenians.  Don't waste your resources on something where you can't build power as an outcome.

I really doubt Obama has forgotten this formational part of his entry into politics. Nothing else he has done indicates that he has. I'm pretty sure the US and NATO just aren't seeing where it helps them build power to get involved militarily in  Ukraine at the present time, or they would have already done so.

by santiago on Tue Apr 15th, 2014 at 03:12:19 PM EST
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Perhaps you are right and I have just missed those occasions where Obama has exercised realpolitik. Then it is also possible that I simply disagree with what he saw as a realpolitik decision -- such as giving Wall Street a pass in '09. Perhaps that is an acceptable decision if you consider that temporary stability is more important than the long term survival of a viable society.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2014 at 12:45:11 AM EST
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And so what about Obama's decision in '09? A calculated decision to let the financial cancer rage, considering that this would likely get him his best shot at two terms and that "Après moi, le déluge"? Even had he failed to get a second term he could have gone down as the most important single term president in US history? He could have brought about a reset that would have given the nation another three generations.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2014 at 09:38:47 AM EST
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You have to take into account who Obama's advisors were: Summers and Geithner...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2014 at 10:04:04 AM EST
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And who chose those advisors.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2014 at 10:49:58 AM EST
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They were "serious".

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2014 at 10:50:51 AM EST
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My point is that, while understanding the implications of realpolitik is necessary, it is not a sufficient guide to decision making. And that there courageous acts of realpolitik as well as cowardly acts. It is one thing to apply realpolitik dealine with Chicago politics while backed by the Pritzkers and quite another to apply it in Washington dealing with Wall Street while having been backed by Wall Street. In Washington crossing powerful economic interests can get your balls stomped - or worse.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2014 at 10:57:19 AM EST
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And what about the whole business of letting Victoria Nuland, AID, etc., etc. carry out the activities that so signally furthered the downfall of Yanukoviych? Mis-calculated realpolitik?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2014 at 12:55:51 AM EST
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Yes, I think that was a case of miscalculated Realpolitik, and I think they didn't realize until the phone call how much the Russians knew about what they had been up to there, but by then it was too late. In any case, it a created a problem that Putin HAD to resolve while the US only has to hover around and take advantage of any opportunities that may or may not present themselves.  So, strategically, it was a pretty ruthless and low-risk (for the West) move that would have impressed Saul Alinsky, if not Henry Kissinger.  I think Putin proved himself better player and politician than they expected to him to be.  
by santiago on Wed Apr 16th, 2014 at 08:58:24 AM EST
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It's only effective realpolitik if at least half the participants are still alive at the end.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2014 at 09:02:05 AM EST
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So, strategically, it was a pretty ruthless and low-risk (for the West) move that would have impressed Saul Alinsky, if not Henry Kissinger.
Poor European Atlanticist, they're not "The West" but just its useful idiots.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 16th, 2014 at 09:56:08 AM EST
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Eastern Ukraine's future: Do Kiev and Moscow actually agree?   Christan Science Monitor

Earlier this week, Russia laid out its vision for eastern Ukraine and how Ukraine can move toward reestablishing its stability and territorial integrity - or what's left of it. Ukrainian officials called the Russian road map, published on the foreign ministry's website, an "ultimatum" and a "completely unacceptable" demand. But, as Yatsenyuk's speech showed, the two sides share common themes with regard to Ukraine's east.

The prospect of a federalized Ukraine. Yatsenyuk promised government reforms that would transfer to Ukraine's regions "the broadest scope of authority and financial resources." The Russian memorandum also calls for decentralization in Ukraine - it called the process "federalization" - and said it should be written into the Ukrainian Constitution. Yatsenyuk's statement confirmed that this was being done.



"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Apr 11th, 2014 at 09:40:58 PM EST
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