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Post By
Late Great Donald Blake 
Moderator

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 7,511
In Reply To
bd2999 
Moderator

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Subj: We're more responsible for our own foreign policy than the policy of other nations.
Posted: Wed Mar 09, 2022 at 01:05:05 am EST (Viewed 173 times)
Reply Subj: Re: I'm sorry but I think you're just espousing good old fashioned American chauvinism...edited to simplify.  
Posted: Fri Mar 04, 2022 at 03:24:56 pm EST (Viewed 232 times)

Previous Post

Alright, I am going to summarize my long-winded response into what I hope will be a shorter and more condensed reply that is easier to follow.

 
    Quote:
    LGDB: It is what it is.  And we've
    been through this before.   I'm exactly as condescending to you as
    you are to Trump supporters.  My appraisal of your political perspective,
    so far as I can tell, is pretty comparable to your appraisal of your average
    Fox News watcher.  I imagine your opinion of them isn't anymore personally
    about them, than mine is of you.  If I'm condescending to anything it's
    your political position.  I think it's fundamentally wrong, contextually
    distorted, and generally misinformed.  I'm being as polite as I can about
    that without sacrificing the content.  And btw... feel free to return the
    favor.


     

    You seem like an otherwise intelligent and
    kind person.  I have no reason to think otherwise.  But be prepared
    because you're probably going to find this response condescending as
    well.  Any time you feel that way, try to tell yourself, I'm being hostile
    to your ideas not your ego.  There's no way around that.   I
    find some of your apparent political ideas plainly awful and harmful. 
    It's not meant as some kind of personal attack.   If it feels that
    way, suffice to say I'm not being reckless.  I'm choosing my words very
    carefully.

I find this to be fairly insulting. Why is your assumption that everyone has some intrinsic bias except yourself? You are assuming a lot here and that I am not able to actually think too much. The whole thing is like patting a kid on the head and saying “I’ll tell you when your older”.It is pretty insulting. And reading the rest of the post is more of the same although much more long winded. Which I am usually guilty of myself. Keep in mind I was replying to your reply initially where your comment was removing NATO as a solution.Which you seem to dance around in your delving into history.

What I think of Trump supporters, their views, Fox News and so on is immaterial to the discussion at hand even if you think it is informative of my thoughts in general.

 
    Quote:
    LGDB: To me this distinction between
    and justification is pretty meaningless.  From what I can tell, an excuse
    is just a justification you either don't believe or agree with.  Fair
    enough, but it runs the risk of begging the question.  And more to the
    point, I think it just confuses the issue.  From my position (a rare
    instance of us agreeing I'll wager)... there IS NO justification for the
    invasion.  It's an overt act of aggression and a flagrant violation of
    international law. I'm not interested in justifying or excusing anything; I'm
    interested in understanding what causes played into the current circumstances,
    and who bears responsibility.  Invariably the US and its NATO allies bear
    SOME of that responsibility.  Admitting this doesn't somehow justify
    anything whatsoever to the other responsible parties like Putin.


Yes, but I am not disputing that they bare some responsibility. Based on your original replies you seem to be placing a disproportionate blame on them. Which to me comes close to excusing, or at least the same frame of reason that arrives at the same place even if you are not going there yourself.

I never disputed that NATO was not important, just that it was not the only cause and IMO not the primary one.

 
    Quote:
    And that's one of my main contentions
    here: thinking that if we bear responsibility for the current conflict that it
    some how means Russia doesn't, is just fallacious.  It's based on a patent
    false dilemma: either we are responsible for the current circumstances or
    Putin is responsible for them.  That would be foolish, and it obfuscates
    an otherwise obvious and nonnegotiable truth:  WE are responsible for a
    100% of our actions, and RUSSIA is responsible for 100% of theirs. 
    Because I would have thought it was painfully obvious that Russia is
    responsible for their decision to invade, I would have thought
    accordingly it was facile, if not totally banal to need to make that
    explicit.  None of my comments imply anything different.  But what
    we're NOT talking about much in this threat is what OUR part in this has
    been.  That is what's worthy of discussion, and what's more, we have a
    more direct responsibility to own up to it.  As Americans we have direct
    influence over our own government (however marginal).  Our moral judgments
    about the Russian foreign policy might be philosophically interesting, but I
    shouldn't have to remind anyone that you're more responsible (and thus
    culpable) for your own actions than your neighbors  My original comments
    were about this, so if you want to talk about what-about-ism, I'd suggest, that
    any time someone bring up our actions that have helped create these
    circumstances, deflecting to Russia is an act of what-about-ism.  Both
    things require discussion.


Considering your original reply had all the nuance of “getting ride of NATO” as your solution you could have fooled me.

 
    Quote:
    As to Fiona Hill, you can respect her
    all you like, but your including her here is a pretty curious kind of evidence. 
     Hill worked at the NSC and came out of the Brookings Institute.  Do
    you know anything about the latter?  Neither things are disqualifying, but
    as such she's hardly some sort of independent source.   My point is
    predicated on the notion that the United States foreign policy consensus for
    the better part of 30 years have led to these kinds of catastrophic outcomes,
    are deeply unjust and immoral ultimately, and the whole paradigm is basically
    disgraceful.  People like Hill, hardly independently minded, represent
    faithfully that very consensus.  She IS that consensus.  She's an
    American chauvinist almost by definition, and it follows from that that
    she'd predictably downplay NATO's expansion being a precipitating
    event.  You might as well be quoting Biden's SOTU address here.  Or
    better yet, perhaps you'd like to quote Condoleezza Rice on her analysis of our
    war in Iraq.


I included her to highlight an example I had read that morning. You obviously disagree, but I was unaware you wanted to get into an academic
debate and require that sort of footnoting.


Nobody is independently minded and in interviews most folks are going to give a cliffs notes version of the situation.

 
    Quote:
    It's also worth noting, that the only
    reason Fiona Hill is even being brought up here, insofar as it's the only
    reason she's a public figure whose interviews would garner attention from the
    main stream press, is that she resigned under the Trump administration and was
    highly critical of the buffoon POTUS.  Thus becoming the 15 minute
    darling of Democrat partisans and apparatchiks, and the ambient center-lib PMCs
    whose brains have been thoroughly poisoned by Russia-gate conspiracies. 
     Being anti-Trump and being a vaguely competent high level
    bureaucrat/public official seem to be the only two qualifications most
    liberals  need to uncritically accept as valid political expertise. 


Because she lacks all qualifications to have formed a valid opinion on the matter.

She is hardly the end all be all source, but is one that sums up some of the points I was making and hardly the only one. They disagree with your point and you seek to discredit them because of presumed liberal bias.

Which is your prerogative I guess but hardly independent minded either.


    Quote:
    And let me we clear.  We CANNOT
    know if this invasion or the Kremlin's general orientation would exist as it
    does without NATO expansion.  Your personal incredulity one way or another
    isn't a kind of evidence.  Saying that NATO expansion wasn't the only cause
    is a given.  Of course there are other causes.  The fact that there
    are legitimate grievances by the Russians doesn't somehow imply that all their
    grievances are legitimate, or that they don't have any
    illegitimate grievances.  But without some kind compelling evidence,
    how can you say that you think these other causes--like Putin's blood and soil,
    Russkiy mir, great nation BS--is what's really motivating to them.  What
    are you, just going with your gut?  And the idea that NATO expansion should
    be dismissed as a cause because the same result might have happened anyway is a
    totally untenable analytical standard.  World War One MIGHT have happened
    regardless of rising nationalism and precarious military alliances.  That
    doesn't mean that nationalism and military alliances weren't primary causes of
    the first world war.


True, but the flip side of that equation is true as well. We only exist in the world we live in, but you are speculating. I see no reason my speculation is less valid.

And I have repeatedly said NATO expansion is a cause. So please do not pull that straw man that I am dismissing it whole sale.

The WW1 example for instance you can ask the question about what contributed how much proportionally and reasonably speculate about such
things. In the end both happened, but that does not mean that both contributed equally.


Keep in mine you had the hypothesis about removing NATO being a solution or at least implied as much. Not me. I was just speculating
that I did not think it was the only cause.


 
    Quote:
    I would argue that without the Soviet
    Union, and because after it's fall we were supposed to be responsible
    facilitating a democracy to grow in the old regimes place, NATO had no
    justification to exist.  Now if you know the first thing about the years
    immediately following the fall of the USSR from Perestroika to its final and
    total collapse, you'll know this was an absolute farce.  [And btw, this is
    just wikipedia level stuff, not my spooky socialist history.]  Rather than
    actually help the Russians create strong democratic institutions--the kind that
    might have acted as bulwark against its more perverse or unstable political
    tendencies--there was no post-Cold War Marshal Plan for Russian reconstruction. 
    We were much more interested in salting the Russkiy earth insuring that the
    globe would have us as the sole super power.  That, and opening up their
    markets as aggressively as possible, privatizing the country as much as
    possible; prostituting out what was left of Russian
    public institutions like some garish fire sale for our
    capitalist firms.   Forgetting the poverty this fertilized that,
    let's face it, we don't give a good goddamn about, it turned the former Soviet
    Union into an explicit kleptocracy.  This is WHY Russia is ruled
    by oligarchs today, why it's run by a mercenary autocrat like
    Putin.  A character that we didn't exactly install, but very much
    supported in his ascendency.  Because pro-capitalist aristocrats with a
    penchant for brutally suppressing the popular decent of their own people in the
    name of concentrated wealth and international trade... are precisely the kinds
    of governments we prefer to do business with. 


Ok, but this seems to be a side rant that is only partially related. It is speculation to assume that if the US or the West did everything in their power the “right way” that Putting would not come from it anyway.
Perhaps less likely but it is a similar argument you are deriding me for.
  

 
    Quote:
    We LIKED that Putin was a strong
    man.  That was the point.   What we didn't predict (or at least
    didn't want to believe because there's little to avoid it without reforming our
    own system) was that Putin was going to take a hard nationalist turn,
    especially around the early 2000s.  As it happens, it was pretty predictable
    that Putin and the rest of the Russian elites weren't going to be indefinitely
    satisfied with being a US vassal state who had to prostrate their own
    nationalist interests for the larger neoliberal hegemony.  That's an
    inherently precarious position, but denying Russia a sphere of influence and
    continually antagonistically threatening to expand NATO only served to
    aggravate a situation that was always going to be fraught under the best of
    circumstances.  And even if the elites and oligarchs are completely
    cynical, and the Russian nationalism is all just a line you feed to the kinds
    of people vulnerable to false promises of recreating a once great nation, the
    fact is we stoked those conditions of desperation and poverty that made the
    Russian public vulnerable to it.  It's like laying out a bunch of dry
    kindling and then getting angry at the fire.


Ok, but again even if 100% true as it is how this is framed appears to me to be too critical of one side of the equation and not the other.

International factors for sure impacted the state of Russia but it is like you are framing it like all of their choices were not choices but totally thrust upon them and their actions were inevitable. 

 
    Quote:
    As to the world we live in... the idea
    that we live in a world where Russia is an unstable
    mostly bellicose country, and that that's contrasted by our country
    being democratic, freedom loving, and an global agent of peace is at best a
    myth.   But more likely just bald American exceptionalist
    propaganda.    At risk of sounding condescending, I submit to you
    that that's as fatuous and divorced from reality as just about anything you'll
    from any Qanon conservative.  Now if you feel like that's an unfair characterization
    of your position, then by all means this doesn't apply to you.  But
    regardless things in the world are quite the contrary.  The US isn't a
    democracy.  It's an oligarchy with a few more liberal amenities.  The
    US's freedoms are mostly hypothetical, especially when compared to most other
    developed nations, including Russia.  And the idea that we're mostly
    peaceful is just a willfully ignorant canard.  


I never said any of this.


    Quote:
    LGDB: Again, Hill isn't to be taken too
    seriously, but as far as Russian thinking that the current boundaries are
    fluid, I think that's perfectly fair to say.  The problem here is this
    characterizes the US government's position entirely and noncontroversially. 
    And that's not some what-about-ism; installing puppet governments is our
    explicit policy with some slightly less honesty, more flowery language. 
    Would you like a list of coups or attempted coups we have supported if not down
    right orchestrated? This is just you run of the mill unvarnished American
    history.  We cannot possibly criticizing Russia for wanting to emulate the
    very foreign policy that we would otherwise defend without embarrassing
    ourselves here.


You could give me all the lists you want, but it would amount to what you are saying it is not and pretty much comes off as an excuse of behavior.

 If it is acceptable that other countries can get away with what they wish because the US has done shady stuff in the past than that is fine, but it is pretty much a system for anarchy and coming off as expecting perfection on most fronts before acting in the world stage in any capacity.


    Quote:
    LGDB: Yeah, I'm well aware of Belarus
    and Russia's relationship.  That's why I bring it up.  My point
    here was that reestablishing old Soviet borders isn't likely given how Russia
    treats its allied nations.  The idea that it's somehow illicit for Russia
    to want its immediate neighbors to be its allies or to try and influence the
    internal politics of neighboring countries for its own ends might be unseemly
    to you, but it just so happens to be the modus operandi of every major nation
    on the planet.  It's Russia's aggression that's an issue.  That's
    what is completely unacceptable.  Annexation and aggression are the
    problem; that Russia wants Georgia, Finland, Ukraine etc. to have the same
    relationship with it that it has with Belarus is precisely what common sense
    should lead you to expect any major power wants.


That is ridiculous to me. Of course the aggression is unacceptable, but so should be the installation of puppet governments. As largely it amounts
to the same thing. Not to mention interfering in the elections of other
countries and promotion of discord and so on.


I am sure you will point to the US actions in Iraq etc. And you would be right, but that does not excuse Russia for wanting to do something like that.


    Quote:
    LGBD:  As I've said if NATO
    countries have this concern then they should have been more invested in not
    letting Russia fall into kleptocratic disarray, such that every incentive
    for Russia to become the bellicose, autocratic, desperate nightmare it is today
    wouldn't have been so thoroughly baked in.    But let's except that
    as you seem to want to have it the West headed by the US had nothing but good
    intentions in their management of the fall of the Soviet Union.  Best laid
    plans of mice and men, and all that.  There was a perfectly
    reasonable détente between Russia and the West.  That was the
    series of buffer countries that existed independently and free of Russian
    influence that would NEVER be allowed the join NATO like Ukraine, Finland,
    Georgia, and so on.  This was a completely reasonable compromise, and you
    can't say with an sense of integrity that we've not continuously flirted with expansion
    and given no reasonable guarantees.  And by the way, if we'd like not to
    escalate things to the precipice of nuclear war, this is precisely
    the détente that our leaders should explicitly trying to
    reestablish. 


You really need to stop assuming my positions.

It may be but it is speculation that it would amount to much of a different response in the end. Even if they were neutral in the sense of NATO one could surmise that they would prefer stronger economic ties to the west or similar and that would have angered Russia near the same.

It is speculation but it would flow logically from the same premise.And is one thing that has been highlighted by Russia as well. Not just NATO but increased ties with the west.  

    Quote:
    LGBD:  The UN is a useful
    organization for diplomacy.  Which is precisely what is required
    now.  Even post crippling sanctions.  The UN ISN'T a good
    organization to unilaterally impose our will on rival nations.  It's not
    meant to be that.


Not much use in most issues where one country is a hold out.
Particularly one on the security council.


I am for diplomacy but it is not like the UN has a great track record in many of these areas even if the intentions are good.


    Quote:
    The idea that the NATO exists in order
    so that way can better coordinate our militaries even as a secondary purpose,
    is like saying a car exists as a device for homeless people to have sex
    in.  It serves that function, sure, but that's not WHY it exists. 
     And more to the point, you could easily create an organization that helps
    to facilitate military coordination whose major premise wasn't that
    the Russians need to be contained at all costs.  And the problem isn't the
    coordination, the problem is the very realistic threat that this kind of
    alliance building would represent to any nation on the other side of it. 
     And the obvious problem of maximalizing the consequence of even minor
    conflicts, such that even territorial disputes or skirmishes between smaller
    nations means the potential threat of nuclear war.


NATO originally existed as a counter to the Soviet Union and was not inherently anti-Russia. It became that way, depending on which side you
want to buy into, because of Russia’s actions and state of things.


Even if there were other organizations made to a similar end they would still be used as Russia for justifications. So, to me, it is a difference without much meaning.


    Quote:
    And if you think Russia not being a
    very good actor reduces confidence in its neighbors about its good behavior,
    why wouldn't you expect our worse behavior to have a very similar chilling
    effect on Russia's faith in our intentions?


This still feels like excusing to me. I understand what you are going for but your prime argument is that the US and the West are imperfect
and so Russia acts out to protect themselves and acts imperfect so that they
are justified in acting out because others got away with it before.


Which to me comes off as more of a justification for lawlessness.


    Quote:
    LGBD:  Of course it doesn't mean
    that.   But if we're even attempting ethical coherence, we have to
    accept that all countries (at an ethical level) have precisely the same amount
    of free passes to excuse their actions.  We simply can't exempt ourselves
    from the same standards that we're literally about to starve potentially
    millions of Russian civilians over. 


You seem to want a standard for the US that no country has ever met and likely will never meet.

I am not sure what you are going for with the last bit. It is a tragedy that innocent people have to suffer, but at the same time you indicated above somewhere that people are responsible for their governments at
some level. And it seems to be the right thing to do.


If you propose that the US should have been penalized harder for past transgressions than I would say they should have been. To me that is
not justification for Russia though. If a person gets away with committing
murder for whatever reason it is not justification for another person to do it
and then point to person x getting away with it.
     


    Quote:
    And the issue here is worse than our
    moral ledger and how hypocrisy comports with that.   The issue is
    that we should expect that rival nations will predictably mirror our
    foreign policies as a matter of simple political physics.  If we reserve
    the right to unilaterally invade other nations under false pretenses; ignore
    the sovereignty of nations; and place our own capitalistic prosperity
    above the democratic will of foreign peoples... and then excuse it all with a
    bunch of ad hoc, flimsy bunk... then we should expect other nations to operate
    precisely  according to  that paradigm.  The reason to me it's
    an incoherent position to suggest that admitting our own fault here is
    tantamount to justifying Russia's culpability is because Russia in this case is
    simply mirroring the principles our own foreign policy.  Russia is
    unequivocally executing wanton political violence at a mass scale,
    and declaring itself to have the unilateral right to undermine the
    political sovereignty of other nations by force.  Ultimately the
    reason we find this unacceptable is because we assert that the only nation that
    has such a right is our own.


But effectively it is justification regardless of how you try to dress it up.

You seem to want to predispose sort of an infectious evil or
cruelty on the West and the other countries are just reflecting pools. That is
not totally wrong but it downplays their own actions and choices as well.

As even if the US had a position of isolationism and so on the blame would be on them for the rise of problems elsewhere with the power they have and doing nothing. It is not an all or nothing situation I know, but with government leadership in the US and democracies switching more
consistently than authoritarian countries to me it is logical that they would
be less prone to swings in position. At least in the longer term.



    Quote:
    If Russia and China enjoy pointing out
    the abuses of other nations to make excuses for their own policy, then I'd say
    they're in good company.  If anything they're simply not as sophisticated
    about it as we are.  It's not as if we were awarded our position as global
    hegemon and sole super power because we're so clearly righteous that all the
    nations of the world voted us in and we're simply executing the duties of our
    lawful global office.  We have our position because of raw and arbitrary
    power, and we maintain our position through its use.   It should come
    as no shock that ascendent nations like China and India, and still gargantuan
    military forces like Russia would prefer that the world were organized
    according to a multipolar power distribution.  That they each to each
    think it only right to preside over their own  sphere's of
    influence.  What are we to tell them?  We can't have that because
    we've been so noble and just, and done some such a wonderful job they should
    all submit to our global dominance and love it?


That is international politics though. Power and influence. It is not about nobility and I am not speculating otherwise, but that does not mean that all versions of power should go unchallenged.

I just disagree with the counter premise you seem to be attempting to justify.

This whole thing started with you indicating that removing NATO would be a solution. I still strongly disagree with you. Not because of my political bias, but because Russia also made its own choices along the way. Some were forced on them but that is international politics in a nut shell. Even the US does not get what it wants all the time, just more than about anybody else.

To me, removing NATO just removes a justification and not the other motivations that Russia has exposed, particularly Putin. And any attempt by border countries attempting to increase ties with the west would be viewed in the same vein and lead to seemingly similar results.

That is speculation, but not unreasonable.That the US is imperfect is not something you need to keep harping on. I am aware. It just feels like you need to highlight the need because nobody is perfect that at some level justifies or at the least will lead to imperfect reactions that are at the foot of blame on a point in the past that was the first domino.

That is all well and good I guess but there are more than one domino in most cases leading to complex issues that regardless of the actions and care taken will lead to unexpected consequences. But to me too much of that just makes it seem that nobody should be solely responsible for their own actions as all actions are responses to other actions by definition.
So, while I do not disagree on every point I think you continually underplay the irresponsibility here and if we were to point out bias I would say you are more geared to look for the flaws in the US actions. Which is lacking in the US self awareness on a number of issues but I think you take it too far.

And I disagree with you that removing NATO would have stopped the actions ongoing. Which is what caused this debate to start with, which for the most part you gave me informed speculation while dismissing mine. Your prerogative I guess, but hardly makes your speculation more valuable. I feel you are mostly bringing up two sets of grievances that are related but not the initial point. As most of your response is an attempt at contextualizing and critiquing the world order. If our expectation is perfection before action or anything approaching it than it will never happen at all.  

I find this to be fairly insulting. Why is your assumption that everyone has some intrinsic bias except yourself? You are assuming a lot here and that I am not able to actually think too much. The whole thing is like patting a kid on the head and saying “I’ll tell you when your older”.It is pretty insulting. And reading the rest of the post is more of the same although much more long winded. Which I am usually guilty of myself. Keep in mind I was replying to your reply initially where your comment was removing NATO as a solution. Which you seem to dance around in your delving into history.


LGDB:  Yeah, but it's not explicitly insulting, and you're a big boy.   Also, I'm not saying you have some intrinsic bias more than anyone else.  I'm saying your expressed political values are something I disagree with.  I find them objectionable at a moral level and dangerous to the degree they're promulgated.  That's the best you're going to get from me.    And your views about Trump supporters aren't immaterial.  I'm saying you don't have any reason or right to expect to be treated differently by people that look down on your political views than you treat others whose politics you look down upon.  So... if you want to clutch any more respect pearls or mount anymore etiquette high horses, I'm just going to feed you this line again.

And if you think you can understand a political situation without understanding its history I'd say that's an openly foolish position that no one in the adult world should take seriously.   How long winded was that?  Am I doing well on the longwinded front?








Yes, but I am not disputing that they bare some responsibility. Based on your original replies you seem to be placing a disproportionate blame on them. Which to me comes close to excusing, or at least the same frame of reason that arrives at the same place even if you are not going there yourself.

I never disputed that NATO was not important, just that it was not the only cause and IMO not the primary one.



LGDB:  No.   I put far more responsibility on the US and NATO foremost BECAUSE I'M AN AMERICAN.  So should you.  It's a perfectly coherent ethical position to say that you have to take GREATER responsibility and accountability for your own behaviors than other people's.   We can't control Russian political moves, we can hope to influence them, but since we're not going to war with them, the answer to what we can do about Russia is a fairly oblique one.  We DO have some control collectively over our own government.  So it's a much more live question.  And we have an ethical imperative to do something about it.   AND, I hate to be the bearer of unwanted news, but we have a responsibility to justify our countries behavior, whether or not it's the sole cause of recent events.  If Russia has other motives than ones related to our own political actions, that doesn't some how mean our own related political actions are acceptable.  






  Considering your original reply had all the nuance of “getting ride of NATO” as your solution you could have fooled me.


LGDB:  What does nuance have to do with anything here?  You want to have a nuanced conversation about what led us to our current circumstance, fine.  I'm all ears.  As it happens you don't.  Especially if that nuance leads to acknowledging the various ways American foreign policy has led to these circumstances, or how it's analogous to Russia's current activities in Ukraine.  I should add, you've contributed exactly nothing new in terms of content to the discussion with respect to complexity.  What's the consideration in terms of realpolitik or emperical information that I haven't factored in?  I'd love to hear it.    Regardless, nuance doesn't somehow forgo the need to make an actual determination when you have a straight up binary decision.  Either we think NATO should exist, or we don't.  I think it shouldn't exist for the reasons expressed.  How is your "yes it should exist" somehow more nuanced?  






I included her to highlight an example I had read that morning. You obviously disagree, but I was unaware you wanted to get into an academic
debate and require that sort of footnoting.


Nobody is independently minded and in interviews most folks are going to give a cliffs notes version of the situation.


LGDB:  Yeah and I'm saying you apparently don't know much about the people you're sourcing.  That's no great crime, but the point is a representative of the Brookings Institute--as liberal think tanks go, they don't get more hawkish or interventionist--who also worked for the NSC passed of (unintentionally) as an objective observer on Russian political motives seems pretty curious.  So you're telling me that a person who works for institutions who promulgate the thin apologies for American foreign policy has looked at the situation and doesn't think we're at all responsible?  Do tell.  I wonder how coal lobbyist feel about the Green New Deal while we're at it.  And I'm not asking for cliff notes or citations.  I'm expecting for you to have some idea about the basic political orientation of the people you're quoting.  Did you know that Fiona Hill had that background, or did you just not think it worth mentioning?  I'm curious now what you make of her politics







Because she lacks all qualifications to have formed a valid opinion on the matter.

She is hardly the end all be all source, but is one that sums up some of the points I was making and hardly the only one. They disagree with your point and you seek to discredit them because of presumed liberal bias.

Which is your prerogative I guess but hardly independent minded either.


LGDB:  Oh no, I think the Brookings Institute being absolutely wrong about nearly every major foreign policy issue over the last 25 years or so discredits her.  It's not just some liberal bias.  It's a very specific and I'd argue mercenary wing of the liberal party.  You should check out their various reports and analysis of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  It's among other things proof that pundits cannot be wrong enough to lose their jobs.  These people literally fail upwards.  

And I think "independent minded" here is totally honorific.  If by independent minded you mean, I'm nonideological, I'm absolutely not.  I have an ideology.  Just like you.  If by independent you mean not paid by massive capitalist interests or elite unaccountable state bureaucracies like for instance Fiona Hill, then yes, I'm independent minded.







True, but the flip side of that equation is true as well. We only exist in the world we live in, but you are speculating. I see no reason my speculation is less valid.

And I have repeatedly said NATO expansion is a cause. So please do not pull that straw man that I am dismissing it whole sale.

The WW1 example for instance you can ask the question about what contributed how much proportionally and reasonably speculate about such
things. In the end both happened, but that does not mean that both contributed equally.


Keep in mine you had the hypothesis about removing NATO being a solution or at least implied as much. Not me. I was just speculating
that I did not think it was the only cause.



LGDB:  because my speculation holds our government accountable for its policies while your speculation seems about absolving it, and exclusively externalizing the blame.   And again, you're dodging the question.  Several causes were given, what do you know about the situation that entitles you to order these various causes that NATO expansion wasn't primary?   Are you just guessing?  I'm not just goding you, do you have information or perspective here that didn't just come from CNN or the New York Times?  Did you study this in college?  Have you even read any books about Russia or the history of the Soviet Union?  I mean give me some reason to think I'm not just contending with the tv you've been watching.

And you completely misunderstand.  I didn't say anything about my hypothesis being about solutions.  As a matter of fact I said now that after 15 years of failing to negotiate in good faith, very few if any easy solutions exists.  My point is that NATO expansion should be stopped, because it's a very bad thing unto itself.  Even if the Russians had been magnanimous enough to just ignore the expansion despite very plainly and repeatedly suggesting they understood it as a threat and a threat to the uneasy detente that already exists, it doesn't mean that this is somehow acceptable behavior or on our part.  Has it occurred to you that while Putin and the factions closest to him might only be using it as a pretext, that there might be other factions (not to mention large swathes of the Russian people ) in the larger Russian political milieu that are primarily motivated by NATO expansion and in broader terms and fear of Western hegemony?  And that our bad behavior in this case encouraged them to support Putin's war rather than resist it?  








Ok, but this seems to be a side rant that is only partially related. It is speculation to assume that if the US or the West did everything in their power the “right way” that Putting would not come from it anyway.
Perhaps less likely but it is a similar argument you are deriding me for. 
  


LGDB:  I'm sorry, but this is patently absurd.  It isn't idle speculation.  It is noncontroversially true that we had a direct hand in putting Putin in power.   It's just a matter of your looking into it.  We didn't sit idly by while Russia collapsed.  We were ostensibly the managers of its collapse and conversion to a market economy.   Do I need to explain to you how our direct influence in bringing Putin into power, helping to atrophy Russian democratic institutions, and selling the former Soviet Union to Russian kleptocratic gangsters and KGB ghouls makes us partially responsible for the consequences of having done that?  Let me see if I have this correct, you're saying that if we help install a government, we should take no responsibility if that government turn out to be corrupt, dangerous, a human rights disaster etc.?  It's like if we were talking about the Trail of Tears, and you said, "well we don't know, those people may have died horribly anyway" therefore we're not responsible.  Honestly, I'm not trying to be gratuitous here, but he fact that you haven't read much about the fall of the Soviet Union doesn't mean it's somehow unknown or completely up in the air.  






Ok, but again even if 100% true as it is how this is framed appears to me to be too critical of one side of the equation and not the other.

International factors for sure impacted the state of Russia but it is like you are framing it like all of their choices were not choices but totally thrust upon them and their actions were inevitable. 


LGDB:  No.  Plainly no.  Again, I'm saying that we can only be responsible for activities, our policy decisions.  I find either blaming or absolving Russia of anything a completely useless activity.   It's only productive at a political level to hold OUR leaders accountable for what THEY do.  We've already placed the most violent sanctions we could on Russia?  What more is there for you to figure out on that end.   It's a settled matter.  The invasion was wrong.  They shouldn't have done it.  And if we're being honest in all likelihood it was a probably a desperate move that isn't going to work out for them.  Having cleared that air, will there every be a time to talk primarily about the very similar and often more harmful activities perpetrated by our own government?   What do you think the rest of the globe would prefer we do, look outward and decide which nations are in good standing and which are not... or perhaps tend our own garden and account for our own misdeeds.    We're currently starving millions of people in Afghanistan.  Do you think perhaps you could find it in your heart to care half as much about that as what the Russians are doing that we may or may not have contributed to directly?








I never said any of this.



LGDB: Correct.  I did.  I think it has bearing on the conversation.  It makes clear, and I have to remind you I'm not just talking to you.  It's a public conversation.   And I literally said, if this doesn't summarize your position, all the better.   Bully for you.  In the mean time I'm not beholden to only reply directly to you.   Do whatever you like with your posts.  Perhaps a slide show.






You could give me all the lists you want, but it would amount to what you are saying it is not and pretty much comes off as an excuse of behavior.

 If it is acceptable that other countries can get away with what they wish because the US has done shady stuff in the past than that is fine, but it is pretty much a system for anarchy and coming off as expecting perfection on most fronts before acting in the world stage in any capacity.


LGDB:  So let me see if I get this straight: you're saying that if I can demonstrate that American foreign policy has been the author of similar, worse, and more global catastrophes and acts of wanton aggression... that it wouldn't somehow absolve Russia of its invasion?  Excellent.  Because of course that would be a totally moronic thing to do.  Lucky I'm not doing it.    I'm not making excuses for anything.  I'm putting Russia's activities into the context of a larger global paradigm of ignoring international law that we we've made our statecraft bread and butter.   

Honestly, what I think is fundamentally distorted about your standard here, is that not only--in order to not be making excuses--must we say Russia is responsible for the invasion.  Apparently that's ALL we can say.  Any other historical context; mention of comparable behavior of other parties; or set of political or economic circumstances to try and make sense of the present that doesn't stop or start with "it's all the enemies fault" is apparently capitulation to Putin.  Congratulations.  You've developed a very efficient formula for not understanding political events.


And let's be very clear.  The US didn't' just "do shady things in the past."  The US is currently doing those shady things.  We're helping to finance a genocidal war in Yemen; we financially support the Israeli apartheid government; and we have elected to facilitate a famine in Afghanistan.  That's just the top 3 things happening as we speak. Are those also Putin's fault perhaps?  Theses are foreign policy initiative that we're not just allowing in some vague noninterventionist sense.  We're active proponents of them. They are things our government is electing to do. 

 And honestly, how dare you talk about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as if they're some sort of distant history we've somehow evolved past.  They're not even a previous generations crimes.  We only just left Afghanistan after two decades of grift and bloodshed.  Thousands of American died in these wars, and you and I voted in the elections of the presidents that sent them there to die.  I'm a veteran of the Iraq war and I'm not even 40.  One of my best friend literally had most of his face destroyed by an IED save for years of plastic surgery.  I mention this because he is literally STILL getting surgeries to help reconstruct his face.  I have friends who are dead whose families are barely beginning to recover from the loss, if they're coping at all.   I could go on.  And now take those stories and multiply them literally by a few million.   I can't tell you how horrifyingly soul crushing it is see just how quickly my "fellow Americans" are to eagerly cosign all that to the distant past.  As if it's somehow lifetimes ago.  Like somehow it's isolated to history; like has no meaning or relationship to our politics now.

   And the architects and salesman of those wars, of course, not only did they NEVER pay for what they did, many of them are literally still in office or in the commanding heights of their respective industries.  Nor has there been any major foreign policy shift from them to now, outside a few changes of the presidential guard and an American public who seems altogether too distracted and cowardly to confront any of it.  Talking about these things as if they're historical context as opposed to very much exactly the world you're living is a borderline delusional way of thinking about the political moment.  And as far as I'm concerned all the victims deserve better.






That is ridiculous to me. Of course the aggression is unacceptable, but so should be the installation of puppet governments. As largely it amounts
to the same thing. Not to mention interfering in the elections of other
countries and promotion of discord and so on.


I am sure you will point to the US actions in Iraq etc. And you would be right, but that does not excuse Russia for wanting to do something like that.


LGDB:  No it doesn't excuse Russia.  It just means that as you seem to almost conclude here, it's basically commensurate with our own activity.  If you don't like this kind of activity, may I suggest voting for leaders that agree with you in our own federal government, and opposing various voices in our own political discourse that ignore when we do it or explain why we exclusively have the right to.   The idea that we're going to prioritize enforcing these kinds of norms and international laws, but rather than starting with our own country we'd start with Russia is entirely backwards.  






You really need to stop assuming my positions.

It may be but it is speculation that it would amount to much of a different response in the end. Even if they were neutral in the sense of NATO one could surmise that they would prefer stronger economic ties to the west or similar and that would have angered Russia near the same.

It is speculation but it would flow logically from the same premise. And is one thing that has been highlighted by Russia as well. Not just NATO but increased ties with the west.  


LGDB:  You've the perfect opportunity to explain how your positions differ from what I'm saying.  In the mean time I'm going to summarize your position the way I find most fair.  

And Ukraine has ties to the west.  So does Russia.  Further, NATO isn't some innocent trading organization.  Among other things it's a lattice of military alliances that imply aggression against one means aggression against all.  It's unilateral in its orientation, it's the OPPOSITE of a diplomatic entity, and any nations like Russia or China put on the other side of it are going to be reasonably threatened by it in the same way we were threatened by the expansion of the Warsaw Pact.  I'm advocating it not exist and, barring that, it halt expansion.  I'm not advocating that Russia is right to control Ukraine's activities as a sovereign nation.   The idea that Russia might have other Ukrainian axes to grind doesn't somehow justify NATO expansion though.   

What you seem to have as a working premise is that it ought to be our role to act as some paternalistic overseer that by fiat and force ordains whether what Russia is doing is acceptable.   But there isn't a justification for the unipolar arrangement, unless you believe we are some sort of uniquely noble and just force in the world that has the right to impose our will on the rest of the world.  It should be expected that Russia as the most powerful nation in its corner of the Earth will want to exercise the same unaccountable influence and aggressive entitlement to their neighbors as we assume around the globe; the same goes for China, India, Brazil, and so on.  What's your argument for why they shouldn't have this right and that it should be reserved exclusively for the US empire?








Not much use in most issues where one country is a hold out.
Particularly one on the security council.


I am for diplomacy but it is not like the UN has a great track record in many of these areas even if the intentions are good.


LGDB:  And what's your diplomatic alternative to the UN other than unilaterally making them do what we want them to do through force or economic pressure?







NATO originally existed as a counter to the Soviet Union and was not inherently anti-Russia. It became that way, depending on which side you
want to buy into, because of Russia’s actions and state of things.


Even if there were other organizations made to a similar end they would still be used as Russia for justifications. So, to me, it is a difference without much meaning.



LGDB:  So because your fatalistic belief about what you know the Russians would inevitably do--from where you get such a confidence about what motivates Russian political machinery I'm sure I don't know--that means that NATO no matter how precarious, threatening, or unstable would be permissible then?  In other words once you'd made the determination that Russian aggression is unavoidable--having admitted to not knowing much about the countries histories or its politics--then anything we do is basically justified.  How could we be helping to encourage or cause what was already essentially predestine to happen?  







This still feels like excusing to me. I understand what you are going for but your prime argument is that the US and the West are imperfect
and so Russia acts out to protect themselves and acts imperfect so that they
are justified in acting out because others got away with it before.


Which to me comes off as more of a justification for lawlessness.


LGDB:  All due respect who cares what it feels like to you?  It's not an excuse.  Plainly.   Apparently anything that contextualizes Russia as not single handedly bringing into existence the byzantine set of geopolitical situation we all find ourselves in is making an excuse for them.  

And don't confuse yourself.  The US and the West aren't imperfect.  The US and the West are no better than Russia with regards to imperialistic attitudes and executed policy. Don't kid yourself.  "No better than" is being generous.  And on that score we can absolutely do any comparison you want by any metric you choose.  There's no excuse for lawlessness, aggression, genocide, imperialistic exploitation.  If you want to talk about relative justification, how about staring with framing Russian imperialism as "lawless'' and US imperialism as "imperfect."  How many people in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Palestine for as start because of our "imperfections"?







  You seem to want a standard for the US that no country has ever met and likely will never meet.

I am not sure what you are going for with the last bit. It is a tragedy that innocent people have to suffer, but at the same time you indicated above somewhere that people are responsible for their governments at
some level. And it seems to be the right thing to do.


If you propose that the US should have been penalized harder for past transgressions than I would say they should have been. To me that is
not justification for Russia though. If a person gets away with committing
murder for whatever reason it is not justification for another person to do it
and then point to person x getting away with it. 


LGDB:  Oh yes, how could we ever meet the standard of not invading nations under false pretenses, or facilitating genocides across the Global South in order to secure open markets for our capitalist oligarchy?   I mean haven't all nations done that?  Certainly Denmark has destabilized an entire global region only to make zero amends and have half its population make pathetic half hearted excuses for it despite the millions of people that are dead?   Let me ask you, do you think this deserves a serious reply?  I'll level with you.  I want a standard for the US that no... EMPIRE will ever meet.  It's among other reasons why I don't shill for any empire.

Not, as to your morally suspect insinuation that you think it's appropriate to starve millions of Russian civilians for a their government's decision to invade another sovereign nation.  I wonder, do you think it would have been fair to starve you and your family for permitting the invasion of Iraq?  After all it doesn't look like you were terribly successful in overthrowing the government after the prosecution of that illegal war.  I mean what can you do, we only had about a decade to stop it.  And sure the Russians have only had the better part of a week to resist, but perhaps just to be on the safe side, what say we crash their entire economy and starve a few million of them, just to be sure?  It seems to be... the right thing to do.      I think perhaps the most puzzling thing about this idea--besides the flagrant indifference to the mass loss of innocent human life of course--is the idea that the Russian government is supposed to be an authoritarian oligarchic state in which case the people have no political power... but at the same time they have enough power to apparently have the option to overthrow the government to prevent the Ukraine war.  Unfortunately now they've chose wrong by not apparently achieved what would amount to the second Russian revolution.  Seems like an unfairly high bar.


And you're right: our getting away with murder doesn't absolve the Russians of their murders.  But if we take your analogy seriously, then perhaps with respect to Russia's murder trial, since we're a mass murderer who is apparently unrepentant because "all our murders happened like a few years ago and $^*t is in the past" perhaps we're not the ideal candidate to be the judge, jury and prosecutor of their trial.






But effectively it is justification regardless of how you try to dress it up.

You seem to want to predispose sort of an infectious evil or
cruelty on the West and the other countries are just reflecting pools. That is
not totally wrong but it downplays their own actions and choices as well.

As even if the US had a position of isolationism and so on the blame would be on them for the rise of problems elsewhere with the power they have and doing nothing. It is not an all or nothing situation I know, but with government leadership in the US and democracies switching more
consistently than authoritarian countries to me it is logical that they would
be less prone to swings in position. At least in the longer term.


LGDB:  No and to be honest man, you're just being lazy.  I've said several time it's not a justification.  And it being a justification isn't implied by my position.   The best you've been able to come up with is that it feels like a justification to you.  None of the things I've said have made it okay for a moment for the Russians to invade Ukraine.  It sounds like you NEED me to be saying that is because the only argument you have is against that position.  Sorry.  But if we're going to play this game.  I'm going to say you're against the Russians because you support Ukrainian ethno-fascists.  Now I know that you didn't say that, but it just kinda feels that way to me.  And sure, logically nothing you've said need even implied it, but I think really your position is just a fancy dress on your secret appreciation for Ukrainian ethno-fascists.   

The only thing I'm downplaying is that Russia is special in their aggressions.  Because to do so is literally special pleading.  It's arbitrary to decided Russian aggression is the kind that is of special concern that we simply must do something about, while Western aggression is just imperfection that happened in the past, but somehow also currently.  This view is just completely wrong.  That has nothing to do with excusing anything.  I condemn ALL acts of aggression like we see the Russian government perpetrating now.  That's where you and I part ways apparently.

I'm not an isolationist.   Full stop.  I'm just not a believer that the United States should have unilateral power that stretches around the world.  And I'm not sure how you think that our countries rapid vacillations from party to party (who let's face it have virtually the same foreign policy anyway) testifies that it's somehow a more trustworthy steward of global peace.






That is international politics though. Power and influence. It is not about nobility and I am not speculating otherwise, but that does not mean that all versions of power should go unchallenged.

LGDB: Agreed.  If you actually believe this then the version of power you should challenge first is your own country.  You'd need to get that house in order, before you try and use it as a vehicle to stop other nations from their iniquities.



 



I just disagree with the counter premise you seem to be attempting to justify.


LGDB:  Where did you get the idea that I'm trying to justify Russian aggression?  I'm guessing you got it from the same place that you know what caused that Russian aggression.  Just feels right to you.









This whole thing started with you indicating that removing NATO would be a solution. I still strongly disagree with you. Not because of my political bias, but because Russia also made its own choices along the way. Some were forced on them but that is international politics in a nut shell. Even the US does not get what it wants all the time, just more than about anybody else.


LGDB:  No.   It started from me saying that we should dissolve NATO because it does far more harm than good and it's the right thing to do.  Insofar as its something the Russians want we should absolutely use as a bargaining chip.  I'm not naïve enough to think it's a full stop solution.  Your point about Russia making it's own choices is a facile one.   Of course.  No one is saying otherwise.






To me, removing NATO just removes a justification and not the other motivations that Russia has exposed, particularly Putin. And any attempt by border countries attempting to increase ties with the west would be viewed in the same vein and lead to seemingly similar results.

LGDB:  One, you don't know this.  If you have a background in something as esoteric as Russian foreign policy I'd love to hear about it, but as you haven't said anything in this thread that hasn't been muttered by Chuck Todd or Max Boot, I kinda doubt it.  Nothing I'm saying implies I can penetrate the black box that is the inner circle of oligarchs that surround Vladimir Putin.   You might as well be guessing the man's weight.  






That is speculation, but not unreasonable. That the US is imperfect is not something you need to keep harping on. I am aware. It just feels like you need to highlight the need because nobody is perfect that at some level justifies or at the least will lead to imperfect reactions that are at the foot of blame on a point in the past that was the first domino.

LGDB:  Apparently I do have to keep harping on things if your take away from what I've said is that the US is "imperfect."  That's a disgusting understatement.  It's like saying slavery wasn't ideal.  Or that the million or so people that died in Iraq and Afghanistan were "unfortunate."  It's a fundamentally dishonest and morally obscene way of describing things.





That is all well and good I guess but there are more than one domino in most cases leading to complex issues that regardless of the actions and care taken will lead to unexpected consequences. But to me too much of that just makes it seem that nobody should be solely responsible for their own actions as all actions are responses to other actions by definition.
So, while I do not disagree on every point I think you continually underplay the irresponsibility here and if we were to point out bias I would say you are more geared to look for the flaws in the US actions. Which is lacking in the US self awareness on a number of issues but I think you take it too far.


LGDB:  I take what too far? Thinking that we should primarily be responsible for our own country's actions before those of other nations?  Or that the US has been responsible for a number of atrocities around the globe and is apparently accountable to no one (not even to its own citizen apparently) while punishing others Draconianly for similar atrocities, ?  






And I disagree with you that removing NATO would have stopped the actions ongoing. Which is what caused this debate to start with, which for the most part you gave me informed speculation while dismissing mine. Your prerogative I guess, but hardly makes your speculation more valuable. I feel you are mostly bringing up two sets of grievances that are related but not the initial point. As most of your response is an attempt at contextualizing and critiquing the world order. If our expectation is perfection before action or anything approaching it than it will never happen at all.  


LGDB:  Oh you mean you disagree with the thing I never said?  Crazy that.  Again, my argument is we shouldn't expand NATO, not because we know that that would fix everything.  We should disband NATO because it's paradigmatically counterproductive, only stoking tensions, and not justifiable from multipolar, multilateral perspective.    As to perfection, I wouldn't shoot for that.  I don't even think you could argue honestly for basically good.   



cheers,
---the late great Donald Blake




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