On Nations Building (reply to Dan Carlin)
Út 08 července 2014
Moving NATO right next to Russia isn't just threatening to them, it seems like a betrayal of what we told them after the USSR fell.
Can you hear how incredibly patronizing this sounds to people from the area (yes, I am Czech)? “We won’t let you in NATO, but leave you as a Kanonenfutter (Cannon fodder) so that we may keep Russians happy” (that is not the same as honestly admitting “We have not enough power to help you, so we won’t promise you to do so.”) Is this what you really want to say? Besides, this strategy of the Cordon sanitaire has really a bad reputation here, because the last time we tried (between the World Wars) it wasn’t helping anything. Both sides (Soviets and Germans) have obviously understood it as a sign of weakness and they divied and swallowed whole area in one mighty gulp.
We needed to re-integrate the Russians slowly back into the global system, make them feel welcome and put them in a situation where today they would be a liberalizing power instead of one that seems reactionary.
I guess what I am saying is the very moves by NATO and the U.S. that make you feel more secure now are the reason you NEED to feel more secure now.
I do not believe that your analysis behind this opinion is right. Yes, the only way how to have really a stable peace here is by getting Russia to be a normal civilized regime behaving peacefully towards its neighbors. Unfortunately, for that to happen you have to have Russians willing to be a peaceful country.
That’s the whole idea of the nation building. I don’t think we can make a nation to build truly democratic and peaceful country from the outside. Only when they have enough power and momentum to overthrow the bad regime and enough sanity and civilization they can rule themselves the democracy may happen. But then they don’t need us much at all (perhaps, they may use some arms, but that’s very dangerous because it is too easy to give guns to wrong people). I am afraid that the best we can achieve from the outside is something unstable and messy like Kosovo or Afghanistan. And yes, in some situations (like these two) perhaps this is better than the then current situation and in such situation the military intervention and overthrow of the regime may be necessary. But we shouldn’t fool ourselves, this kind of messy unstable regime of thugs which needs to be kept together by us for a long long time is the best what we get.
In case of Afghanistan when the current regime proudly declares that it helped a terrorist group who just killed three thousand (or how many) of your people and it will gladly do it again, there is probably not much else to do than to get rid off them. But the result wont be ever nice and peaceful state.
With Russia we are (thanks $DEITY!) not dealing with the situation like this, but I am afraid the same principle applies. Unless the civilized group in the country is large and powerful enough to run it, we cannot expect much better than what we have. With Germany it took two World Wars before they got their acts together. And even that was not enough, for example I was just yesterday reading about Fisher’s “Griff nach der Weltmacht: Die Kriegzielpolitik des kaiserlichen Deutschland 1914–1918” (published in English as “Germany's Aims in the First World War”; I am sure you know about this book from your other podcast) and that was published only in 1961 to the complete outrage of the German public.
I hope and pray that it wouldn’t take a war to get Russia into civilized state, but just being nice to them won’t be enough either. And yes, if you understand me that I think Mr. Putin is in many aspects similar to Mr. Hitler, well I think there are some disturbing parallels. I just hope that Russia is much weaker (both economically and technologically), that the current balance of power is much stronger, and that perhaps Mr. Putin is a little bit more sane.
Being from the Central Europe I was always thinking about the life in the land of Ithilien when the Mordor looms just next door. We now enjoy Spring and Beauty when we pushed Sauron back to his Tower, perhaps we have managed to take away even some regions of Núrn behind the Ephel Dúath, but let us not kid ourselves, the Imperial Evil has not left the Barad-dúr yet and being nice to Sauron won’t make him any better, it would be just understood as a sign of weakness.