Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Realism RE: Russia

At great risk of appearing somewhat All Ukrainia - All The Time, here's a hot! piece from one of the League of Hot Democrazies Foundation's smartest cookies in the box

These foreign policy “realists,” identifiable by their abjuring a role for morality in American foreign policy and the necessity of US global leadership, locate the real imperialists in Washington and Brussels, not Moscow. For years, they have been proven embarrassingly wrong about Russia and its intentions, and in the unprovoked and illegal invasion of Ukraine, their failure of analysis is now laid bare for the world to witness.

 “Distorting Russia,” will go down in history as one of the most slavish defenses of Putinism

Western readers, this urine poor piece LOLs, have been subject to a “relentless demonization of Putin, with little regard for facts.” Putin—a man who presides over a rubber stamp parliament, subjects his political opponents to show trials, dispatches riot police to beat peaceful protestors, and has restricted freedom of speech and association by banning pro-gay language and demonstrations—is unfairly portrayed as an “autocrat.”

For the realists, the seeds of today’s antagonism between Russia and the West are found not in Putin’s KGB mentality, but in the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to include former members of the Soviet-era Warsaw Pact. For the past 25 years, they have been warning that NATO is an outdated alliance with no purpose other than to “antagonize” a Russia that wants nothing more than peace and which deserves to have “spheres of privileged interests,” to use Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s phrase, in the lands it occupied for over four decades.

Russia and the West do indeed have competing interests in the post-Soviet space. The problem with the realists is that they fail to see the moral, tactical and legal disparities that exist between the aims and methods of East and West. When Brussels and Washington propose EU and NATO membership, they are offering association in alliances of liberal, democratic states, achieved through a democratic, consensual process. Russia, meanwhile, cajoles, blackmails and threatens its former vassals into “joining” its newfangled “Eurasian Union,” whose similarity to the Soviet Union of yore Putin barely conceals. The right of sovereign countries to choose the alliances they wish is one Russia respects only if they choose to ally themselves with Russia. Should these countries try to join Western institutions then there will be hell to pay

For many realists, American “restraint” now means not just withdrawing America’s overseas troop presence and drastically cutting the defense budget, but curtailing diplomacy itself.

Herein lies a paradox at the heart of foreign policy realism: that same, all-powerful US and EU octopus which is capable of overthrowing governments with the flip of a switch is somehow incapable of confronting Russian hard power. Any attempt at repelling Moscow’s aggression is quickly derided as “warmongering,” with requisite references to the mistakes of Iraq thrown in for good measure. Perhaps we should stop calling these people “realists.” “Isolationist” seems more apt.

Another irony is that foreign policy realism—which purports to seek stability and the maintenance of the status quo—has given free reign to a revanchist Russian regime seeking to re-establish the Soviet Empire, international law be damned.

Putin’s revisionism goes even further back; he’s seeking nothing less than to upend the Peace of Westphalia, the set of 17th century peace treaties that form the very basis of contemporary realist international political theory in their prescription of national sovereignty and non-intervention.

Pic - "Western leaders are stunned because they haven’t realized Russia’s owners no longer respect Europeans the way they once did after the Cold War."