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#131- Dictators, Immigration, #metoo, and other Imponderables A Conversation with Masha Gessen

 
okComputer
 
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okComputer
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05 July 2018 09:20
 
Twissel - 04 July 2018 08:55 PM

Bullshit on Ukraine joining NATO. They also had just extended the lease on the fleet base.

They wanted to join the EU, and the EU didn’t say no. But joining the common market is a process that takes decades, so there was no rush whatsoever for Russia. It was an invasion on a flimsy, fabricated excuse, nothing else.

You are right - the protests started as a pro-EU demonstrations, but they quickly became much more than that. I was there in Maidan in December of 2013, initially as a supporter. But what I saw was not an upraise of “intelligencia,” rooting for joining EU as advertised to the westerners, but rather herds of ultra nationalists and skinheads many of whom openly carried Nazi symbolic rooting for language cleansing and other policies that in the West we were “forgotten” to be told. In all fairness, there were indeed peaceful “decent” people (in so far as I could tell), including my (temporarily misguided) friends, but they were a small minority, no more than 10% of the crowd.

Back to Sevastopol. -
If you have paid attention to Ukrainian politics the intent and trajectory of forces like Svoboda with Tyagnibok and others was to break that lease and essentially kick out Russians from Sevastopol military base. Btw, Tyagnibok, one of the leaders of the revolution (fully supported by US) is on record praising SS Galychina soldiers (Ukrainian Nazi collaborators during WW2) for “cleaning the land from Russians, Jews and other dirt.” One would think that this should have given pause before we spend US taxpayer dollars to support that specimen - it did not.

The importance of that naval base is hard to underestimate. It goes way back to the 19th century. One of the main reasons to sell Alaska in 1867 to US was to pay huge debt incurred during the Crimean war of 1853 fought by Russia against Turks and Brits.

The “lease deal” was never a deal between equal parties. Russia, to not appear as a bully, was “agreeing” to pay and Ukraine, to not appear as a pussy, was “agreeing” to lease. But the Ukrainian neocons have lost the plot. Svoboda and other ultra nationalist parties began to openly advocate for the break of that lease. By a pure coincidence they had very close ties with people like John McCain and other neocon hawks sponsoring lots of their activities.

It is my speculation, but I think that Russians “ran their numbers” and said -hey there’s a good chance that we are going to lose the base which will significantly affect our strategic military capabilities. What can we do? The rest is Dave Chappelle’s episode “When keeping it real goes wrong.”

 

 
 
Jan_CAN
 
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Jan_CAN
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05 July 2018 09:28
 
sethg - 05 July 2018 09:18 AM
Jan_CAN - 05 July 2018 09:02 AM

Regardless of the debates and Harris’ views regarding ‘identity politics’, everyone has their own unique perspective, a person’s background and experiences matter, and these are not irrelevant to any discussion.

Yes. My point is not to discount Gessen’s background or experience. They are obviously relevant to this discussion and I learned quite a bit from her perspective. But her identity does not make her right on every topic or even a topic that is related to her identity. For example, one of her claims was that gay people are as likely to suffer the same fate at the hands of Evangelical or Orthodox Christians as they would at the hands of Fundamentalist Muslims. If this is the case, she should be providing evidence of stoning of gays and lesbians by Evangelicals in the US or Orthodox in Russia. This support is necessary for her statement to be true. The claim is no more true or untrue based on her identity;

Of course a person’s background and identity does not make them right, but it is relevant, which you seemed to discount earlier.  Thanks for clarifying.

[ Edited: 05 July 2018 19:49 by Jan_CAN]
 
 
LadyJane
 
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LadyJane
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05 July 2018 10:52
 

The perpetual hostility between Russia and its former allies stems from the fear of expansionism post WWII apres the formulation of The Marshall Plan.  And although Germany and most of Western Europe was near economic and social collapse the problems that followed were more geographical than financial or ideological.  And while The United States was supposedly attempting to reduce entanglements they provided support both militarily and through financial means and eventually enacting NATO, leading to the German divide, while escalating the tensions that were already steaming.  And so came the big Forty Year Freeze.

By the early nineties, after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the United States would once again dangle the NATO carrot and once again it would be taken as a threat to Russian sovereignty.  And each time a brother country joined it was further evidence that NATO threatened to dismantle the Warsaw Pact and encroach that Soviet Sphere.  This led to the violence and bombing campaign in Serbia that devastated the region.  Thus making Georgia and Ukraine zones of great strategic influence as they buffer the western and southwestern border. 

The annexation of Crimea was Putin’s way of circumventing being undermined by Russian rivals.  Taking back what had been a ‘gift’ from Khrushchev in what I’m guessing was an ill-advised moment of drunkedness considering it’s home to the Russian Black Sea Fleet.

And when Turkey shoots down a Russian plane everyone takes a moment to decide who owns the airspace.  I suppose that’s how we decide who is at fault.  Who to be MAD at.  But I doubt that very much.  We don’t often know whose side we’re on–whose side we think we’re on anyway.  The decision is based less on alliances from seventy years ago and more about the proxy wars we find ourselves fighting today.  Although, I suspect the majority of people are in the dark about that too.

 
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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05 July 2018 14:05
 
Twissel - 04 July 2018 08:55 PM

Bullshit on Ukraine joining NATO. They also had just extended the lease on the fleet base.

They wanted to join the EU, and the EU didn’t say no. But joining the common market is a process that takes decades, so there was no rush whatsoever for Russia. It was an invasion on a flimsy, fabricated excuse, nothing else.

Half of Ukraine wanted to join the EU. The other half wanted to join Putin’s equivalent, I forget what it was called, the Eurasian union or something like that. For reasons having to do with EU tariffs and import restrictions, they couldn’t join both. They had to choose one or the other. The leader of Ukraine at that time was a corrupt, Putin crony who, at the last minute, decided to join Putin’s union. That’s what precipitated the unrest that led to his illegal ouster. He was replaced by someone who was equally corrupt, but who preferred the EU. (Our corrupt bastard instead of Putin’s corrupt bastard.)

At the same time, there was also a push to include Ukraine in NATO, presumably as an enticement for their joining the EU instead of the Eurasian Union. This despite promises made in the past that NATO would not spread to Russia’s borders. Our aggression and meddling is what precipitated the Ukrainian civil war and forced Putin’s hand with respect to Crimea. No Russian leader could have acted otherwise and retained his position of leadership. The Russian people—any people—would not have stood for it. It would be like Trump deciding to hand Pearl Harbor over to the Chinese. Even Gorbachev supported Putin’s decision.

I believe Obama’s finest moment was his refusal to accede to the Liberal Hawks and Neocons who wanted to arm the pro-EU faction of Ukraine. We’d have most likely ended up in a shooting war with Russia. Thank God (metaphorically, of course) Hillary didn’t get elected, or she would gone down that exact path.

 
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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Antisocialdarwinist
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05 July 2018 14:12
 
okComputer - 05 July 2018 09:20 AM
Twissel - 04 July 2018 08:55 PM

Bullshit on Ukraine joining NATO. They also had just extended the lease on the fleet base.

They wanted to join the EU, and the EU didn’t say no. But joining the common market is a process that takes decades, so there was no rush whatsoever for Russia. It was an invasion on a flimsy, fabricated excuse, nothing else.

You are right - the protests started as a pro-EU demonstrations, but they quickly became much more than that. I was there in Maidan in December of 2013, initially as a supporter. But what I saw was not an upraise of “intelligencia,” rooting for joining EU as advertised to the westerners, but rather herds of ultra nationalists and skinheads many of whom openly carried Nazi symbolic rooting for language cleansing and other policies that in the West we were “forgotten” to be told. In all fairness, there were indeed peaceful “decent” people (in so far as I could tell), including my (temporarily misguided) friends, but they were a small minority, no more than 10% of the crowd.

Back to Sevastopol. -
If you have paid attention to Ukrainian politics the intent and trajectory of forces like Svoboda with Tyagnibok and others was to break that lease and essentially kick out Russians from Sevastopol military base. Btw, Tyagnibok, one of the leaders of the revolution (fully supported by US) is on record praising SS Galychina soldiers (Ukrainian Nazi collaborators during WW2) for “cleaning the land from Russians, Jews and other dirt.” One would think that this should have given pause before we spend US taxpayer dollars to support that specimen - it did not.

The importance of that naval base is hard to underestimate. It goes way back to the 19th century. One of the main reasons to sell Alaska in 1867 to US was to pay huge debt incurred during the Crimean war of 1853 fought by Russia against Turks and Brits.

The “lease deal” was never a deal between equal parties. Russia, to not appear as a bully, was “agreeing” to pay and Ukraine, to not appear as a pussy, was “agreeing” to lease. But the Ukrainian neocons have lost the plot. Svoboda and other ultra nationalist parties began to openly advocate for the break of that lease. By a pure coincidence they had very close ties with people like John McCain and other neocon hawks sponsoring lots of their activities.

It is my speculation, but I think that Russians “ran their numbers” and said -hey there’s a good chance that we are going to lose the base which will significantly affect our strategic military capabilities. What can we do? The rest is Dave Chappelle’s episode “When keeping it real goes wrong.”

Yes, well said. Don’t forget the historical significance of Sevastopol and Crimea to the Russians, too. It was the scene of some of the bloodiest fighting in WWII, second only to Stalingrad and perhaps Kursk. Imagine the two thousand Americans who died at Pearl harbor, then multiply that by a hundred or more.

 
 
sojourner
 
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sojourner
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05 July 2018 14:33
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 05 July 2018 02:05 PM

...Our aggression and meddling is what precipitated the Ukrainian civil war and forced Putin’s hand with respect to Crimea. No Russian leader could have acted otherwise and retained his position of leadership. The Russian people—any people—would not have stood for it….


I still don’t see it in this particular case. Again, I don’t think there was choir boy behavior on either side, but to say that allowing the Ukraine to join the West is ‘meddling’ is aggressive isolationism, to my mind (aggressive as in, instead of traditional isolationism where people simply keep to themselves, we force people to keep to themselves and the status quo.) If Russia wants people to voluntarily ally with them, they need to focus on building their brand (which I think they may be doing at this point, actually, although perhaps that’s a mistaken impression on my part.) If you have to keep your ‘allies’ in by force, they aren’t really allies anyways, they’re captives.

I believe Obama’s finest moment was his refusal to accede to the Liberal Hawks and Neocons who wanted to arm the pro-EU faction of Ukraine. We’d have most likely ended up in a shooting war with Russia. Thank God (metaphorically, of course) Hillary didn’t get elected, or she would gone down that exact path.


I thought we did start selling arms to the Ukraine under Trump? Maybe it was just approved, but there was definitely significant movement in that direction. Also new sanctions, and I think maybe more soldiers in Norway (although again, whether that actually happened or has just been discussed I’m not sure).

 
 
LadyJane
 
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LadyJane
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05 July 2018 15:26
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 05 July 2018 02:12 PM
okComputer - 05 July 2018 09:20 AM
Twissel - 04 July 2018 08:55 PM

Bullshit on Ukraine joining NATO. They also had just extended the lease on the fleet base.

They wanted to join the EU, and the EU didn’t say no. But joining the common market is a process that takes decades, so there was no rush whatsoever for Russia. It was an invasion on a flimsy, fabricated excuse, nothing else.

You are right - the protests started as a pro-EU demonstrations, but they quickly became much more than that. I was there in Maidan in December of 2013, initially as a supporter. But what I saw was not an upraise of “intelligencia,” rooting for joining EU as advertised to the westerners, but rather herds of ultra nationalists and skinheads many of whom openly carried Nazi symbolic rooting for language cleansing and other policies that in the West we were “forgotten” to be told. In all fairness, there were indeed peaceful “decent” people (in so far as I could tell), including my (temporarily misguided) friends, but they were a small minority, no more than 10% of the crowd.

Back to Sevastopol. -
If you have paid attention to Ukrainian politics the intent and trajectory of forces like Svoboda with Tyagnibok and others was to break that lease and essentially kick out Russians from Sevastopol military base. Btw, Tyagnibok, one of the leaders of the revolution (fully supported by US) is on record praising SS Galychina soldiers (Ukrainian Nazi collaborators during WW2) for “cleaning the land from Russians, Jews and other dirt.” One would think that this should have given pause before we spend US taxpayer dollars to support that specimen - it did not.

The importance of that naval base is hard to underestimate. It goes way back to the 19th century. One of the main reasons to sell Alaska in 1867 to US was to pay huge debt incurred during the Crimean war of 1853 fought by Russia against Turks and Brits.

The “lease deal” was never a deal between equal parties. Russia, to not appear as a bully, was “agreeing” to pay and Ukraine, to not appear as a pussy, was “agreeing” to lease. But the Ukrainian neocons have lost the plot. Svoboda and other ultra nationalist parties began to openly advocate for the break of that lease. By a pure coincidence they had very close ties with people like John McCain and other neocon hawks sponsoring lots of their activities.

It is my speculation, but I think that Russians “ran their numbers” and said -hey there’s a good chance that we are going to lose the base which will significantly affect our strategic military capabilities. What can we do? The rest is Dave Chappelle’s episode “When keeping it real goes wrong.”

Yes, well said. Don’t forget the historical significance of Sevastopol and Crimea to the Russians, too. It was the scene of some of the bloodiest fighting in WWII, second only to Stalingrad and perhaps Kursk. Imagine the two thousand Americans who died at Pearl harbor, then multiply that by a hundred or more.

The casualties attributed to the Soviet Union in its entirety as a result of WWII exceeded twenty million.  Which lends a bit of perspective to Putin’s position.  Is hasn’t to do with Russia as a bully as much as it is a logical response to being encircled.  Access to the sea and Crimea being the most significant, and fought for, port throughout its history.  What would the American response be if Canada and Mexico joined the Warsaw Pact?  Same dilemma.  Different bully.

 
 
GAD
 
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GAD
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05 July 2018 17:26
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 05 July 2018 02:05 PM
Twissel - 04 July 2018 08:55 PM

Bullshit on Ukraine joining NATO. They also had just extended the lease on the fleet base.

They wanted to join the EU, and the EU didn’t say no. But joining the common market is a process that takes decades, so there was no rush whatsoever for Russia. It was an invasion on a flimsy, fabricated excuse, nothing else.

Half of Ukraine wanted to join the EU. The other half wanted to join Putin’s equivalent, I forget what it was called, the Eurasian union or something like that. For reasons having to do with EU tariffs and import restrictions, they couldn’t join both. They had to choose one or the other. The leader of Ukraine at that time was a corrupt, Putin crony who, at the last minute, decided to join Putin’s union. That’s what precipitated the unrest that led to his illegal ouster. He was replaced by someone who was equally corrupt, but who preferred the EU. (Our corrupt bastard instead of Putin’s corrupt bastard.)

At the same time, there was also a push to include Ukraine in NATO, presumably as an enticement for their joining the EU instead of the Eurasian Union. This despite promises made in the past that NATO would not spread to Russia’s borders. Our aggression and meddling is what precipitated the Ukrainian civil war and forced Putin’s hand with respect to Crimea. No Russian leader could have acted otherwise and retained his position of leadership. The Russian people—any people—would not have stood for it. It would be like Trump deciding to hand Pearl Harbor over to the Chinese. Even Gorbachev supported Putin’s decision.

I believe Obama’s finest moment was his refusal to accede to the Liberal Hawks and Neocons who wanted to arm the pro-EU faction of Ukraine. We’d have most likely ended up in a shooting war with Russia. Thank God (metaphorically, of course) Hillary didn’t get elected, or she would gone down that exact path.

Sure, if Pearl Harbor belonged to another country and we were leasing it and really intended on keeping in any case.

 

 
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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05 July 2018 17:28
 
NL. - 05 July 2018 02:33 PM

Again, I don’t think there was choir boy behavior on either side, but to say that allowing the Ukraine to join the West is ‘meddling’ is aggressive isolationism. . . .

That’s like saying Russia “allowed” Trump to win the election, as if he were the unanimous choice among Americans and Putin somehow prevented our collective will from being stymied.

The part of this puzzle that you’re missing is that half the people in Ukraine are pro Russia, the other half pro Europe. We have no business playing kingmaker, and Russia’s response to our doing so was, if not “justified,” completely understandable and predictable. In fact, I’d venture to say that Russia’s response was exactly what the Liberal Hawks and Neocons wanted all along, believing that it would force Obama to intervene militarily.

 
 
mapadofu
 
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mapadofu
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05 July 2018 18:59
 

Except that the US didn’t.  So all that’s happened is a military land grab in Europe with no negative consequences for the aggressor.

Plus are you claiming some sort of deep state conspiracy theory wherein parts of the Obama administration were acting against other parts in order to try to achieve ends that, ultimately, never came to fruition?

Also, I think that a more realistic scenario to use as an analogy would be the Philippines rejecting US based, maybe with some diplomatic prodding from China.  As I run that scenario through my head I do not see a sense in which a US invasion of said nation is somehow the only possible reaction.  So I’m still on the Russia had a flimsy excuse to cover their expansionist desires side of things.

[ Edited: 05 July 2018 19:34 by mapadofu]
 
sojourner
 
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sojourner
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05 July 2018 19:44
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 05 July 2018 05:28 PM
NL. - 05 July 2018 02:33 PM

Again, I don’t think there was choir boy behavior on either side, but to say that allowing the Ukraine to join the West is ‘meddling’ is aggressive isolationism. . . .

That’s like saying Russia “allowed” Trump to win the election, as if he were the unanimous choice among Americans and Putin somehow prevented our collective will from being stymied.


I’m not following you. I would have no problem saying that Russia, in addition to all the other countries in the world, did ‘allow’ Trump to win the election. I find the attempts at meddling deplorable but there is no evidence (that I’m aware of) that they actually changed vote counts or any such thing.


But note the difference in subtle connotations there. If Russia ‘allowed’ Trump to win the election, even if this is technically true I guess, the implication is that it was sort of their decision to make, which it wasn’t. If we ‘allow’ the Ukraine the right to self-determination, the implication is that the Ukraine has the right to self-governance. Which it does.

The part of this puzzle that you’re missing is that half the people in Ukraine are pro Russia, the other half pro Europe. We have no business playing kingmaker, and Russia’s response to our doing so was, if not “justified,” completely understandable and predictable. In fact, I’d venture to say that Russia’s response was exactly what the Liberal Hawks and Neocons wanted all along, believing that it would force Obama to intervene militarily.


Ok, I think I see more what you’re getting at here. I agree that the situation in the Ukraine is not clearcut. There was a coup that overthrew a legally elected official involved, for example - I’m not sure what the international norm is for recognizing elected leaders, but I have no problem saying that if the new leader didn’t / doesn’t meet those standards, then we should respond accordingly. (Sorry for being vague, I’m also not clear on what that entails. Doing whatever one does when a leader is not recognized. A speech at the UN maybe? Not sure on that.) So sure, if an elected official is overthrown, that’s a very grey area, and I think we should have consistent, fairly applied standards for when a new leader is recognized and when they aren’t. The same is true of the War in Donbass - I didn’t say I only support the Ukraine’s decision to join the West. Again, the specifics of who recognizes what when on the international stage, when it comes to wars, are for greater legal minds than mine. But I have no dog in this fight, if the Ukraine in its entirety wanted to join Russia and merge as one country tomorrow, more power to them.


What I do have a problem saying is that the Ukrainian people should be tucked away into isolation lest they get Western notions in their head. I mean, as much as I like and respect China, I don’t say “I really think censorship on the internet should be supported in China, because otherwise they might read something from some other country that would start a fight”.  Or heck, because I am me and tend to be middle-of-the-road on everything, I wouldn’t necessarily even have a problem with that either - but I do have a problem with hypocrisy of standards. We are a global community with the right to connect with, advertise to, and make our case to our neighbors in a relatively open market or we aren’t - but saying “How dare you influence!” only when it comes to “the US meddling!” narrative is hypocritical, to my mind. We don’t support censorship in this country because it might quell potential civic unrest, and that argument would seem blatantly anti-democratic here. Yet it’s fine to say that if western Ukrainians want to join the West, that mean old West should just have shunned them so that they didn’t get ideas in their head, that if only we had kept them cloistered everything would have been peaceful.


Again, I am of the opinion that in a free market situation, the Ukraine’s choice was inevitable. The ‘encroachment’ on Russia was also inevitable, in that sense. (By way of an analogy that doesn’t fit all parameters particularly well but gets my general point across - how many West Germans tried to sneak over the wall to start a new life in East Berlin, during the Cold War? What about the reverse?) We could have erected barriers to prevent that, but that is different than allowing people to make their own choices. If that is what people want, ok, but propose that across the board, not just in the case of the West. Otherwise, like I said, let Russia step up to the plate and build their own brand - to persuade based on their own merits, and learn and grow during that process. That’s the whole point of open systems and competition, yes?

[ Edited: 05 July 2018 20:55 by sojourner]
 
 
okComputer
 
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okComputer
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06 July 2018 09:19
 
GAD - 05 July 2018 05:26 PM
Antisocialdarwinist - 05 July 2018 02:05 PM
Twissel - 04 July 2018 08:55 PM

Bullshit on Ukraine joining NATO. They also had just extended the lease on the fleet base.

They wanted to join the EU, and the EU didn’t say no. But joining the common market is a process that takes decades, so there was no rush whatsoever for Russia. It was an invasion on a flimsy, fabricated excuse, nothing else.

Half of Ukraine wanted to join the EU. The other half wanted to join Putin’s equivalent, I forget what it was called, the Eurasian union or something like that. For reasons having to do with EU tariffs and import restrictions, they couldn’t join both. They had to choose one or the other. The leader of Ukraine at that time was a corrupt, Putin crony who, at the last minute, decided to join Putin’s union. That’s what precipitated the unrest that led to his illegal ouster. He was replaced by someone who was equally corrupt, but who preferred the EU. (Our corrupt bastard instead of Putin’s corrupt bastard.)

At the same time, there was also a push to include Ukraine in NATO, presumably as an enticement for their joining the EU instead of the Eurasian Union. This despite promises made in the past that NATO would not spread to Russia’s borders. Our aggression and meddling is what precipitated the Ukrainian civil war and forced Putin’s hand with respect to Crimea. No Russian leader could have acted otherwise and retained his position of leadership. The Russian people—any people—would not have stood for it. It would be like Trump deciding to hand Pearl Harbor over to the Chinese. Even Gorbachev supported Putin’s decision.

I believe Obama’s finest moment was his refusal to accede to the Liberal Hawks and Neocons who wanted to arm the pro-EU faction of Ukraine. We’d have most likely ended up in a shooting war with Russia. Thank God (metaphorically, of course) Hillary didn’t get elected, or she would gone down that exact path.

Sure, if Pearl Harbor belonged to another country and we were leasing it and really intended on keeping in any case.

 

Let’s not forget that Hawaii was also ... annexed. Respect for sovereignty historically did not get in the way of acquiring strategic ports.

 
 
sojourner
 
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sojourner
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06 July 2018 10:46
 
okComputer - 06 July 2018 09:19 AM
GAD - 05 July 2018 05:26 PM
Antisocialdarwinist - 05 July 2018 02:05 PM
Twissel - 04 July 2018 08:55 PM

Bullshit on Ukraine joining NATO. They also had just extended the lease on the fleet base.

They wanted to join the EU, and the EU didn’t say no. But joining the common market is a process that takes decades, so there was no rush whatsoever for Russia. It was an invasion on a flimsy, fabricated excuse, nothing else.

Half of Ukraine wanted to join the EU. The other half wanted to join Putin’s equivalent, I forget what it was called, the Eurasian union or something like that. For reasons having to do with EU tariffs and import restrictions, they couldn’t join both. They had to choose one or the other. The leader of Ukraine at that time was a corrupt, Putin crony who, at the last minute, decided to join Putin’s union. That’s what precipitated the unrest that led to his illegal ouster. He was replaced by someone who was equally corrupt, but who preferred the EU. (Our corrupt bastard instead of Putin’s corrupt bastard.)

At the same time, there was also a push to include Ukraine in NATO, presumably as an enticement for their joining the EU instead of the Eurasian Union. This despite promises made in the past that NATO would not spread to Russia’s borders. Our aggression and meddling is what precipitated the Ukrainian civil war and forced Putin’s hand with respect to Crimea. No Russian leader could have acted otherwise and retained his position of leadership. The Russian people—any people—would not have stood for it. It would be like Trump deciding to hand Pearl Harbor over to the Chinese. Even Gorbachev supported Putin’s decision.

I believe Obama’s finest moment was his refusal to accede to the Liberal Hawks and Neocons who wanted to arm the pro-EU faction of Ukraine. We’d have most likely ended up in a shooting war with Russia. Thank God (metaphorically, of course) Hillary didn’t get elected, or she would gone down that exact path.

Sure, if Pearl Harbor belonged to another country and we were leasing it and really intended on keeping in any case.

 

Let’s not forget that Hawaii was also ... annexed. Respect for sovereignty historically did not get in the way of acquiring strategic ports.


That was in the 1800s. Are you in favor of reinstating international norms from that time? If you want to make an “argument from history”, there is almost no behavior that you can condemn. People also frequently performed human sacrifice, historically.

 
 
okComputer
 
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okComputer
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06 July 2018 11:11
 
NL. - 06 July 2018 10:46 AM
okComputer - 06 July 2018 09:19 AM
GAD - 05 July 2018 05:26 PM
Antisocialdarwinist - 05 July 2018 02:05 PM
Twissel - 04 July 2018 08:55 PM

Bullshit on Ukraine joining NATO. They also had just extended the lease on the fleet base.

They wanted to join the EU, and the EU didn’t say no. But joining the common market is a process that takes decades, so there was no rush whatsoever for Russia. It was an invasion on a flimsy, fabricated excuse, nothing else.

Half of Ukraine wanted to join the EU. The other half wanted to join Putin’s equivalent, I forget what it was called, the Eurasian union or something like that. For reasons having to do with EU tariffs and import restrictions, they couldn’t join both. They had to choose one or the other. The leader of Ukraine at that time was a corrupt, Putin crony who, at the last minute, decided to join Putin’s union. That’s what precipitated the unrest that led to his illegal ouster. He was replaced by someone who was equally corrupt, but who preferred the EU. (Our corrupt bastard instead of Putin’s corrupt bastard.)

At the same time, there was also a push to include Ukraine in NATO, presumably as an enticement for their joining the EU instead of the Eurasian Union. This despite promises made in the past that NATO would not spread to Russia’s borders. Our aggression and meddling is what precipitated the Ukrainian civil war and forced Putin’s hand with respect to Crimea. No Russian leader could have acted otherwise and retained his position of leadership. The Russian people—any people—would not have stood for it. It would be like Trump deciding to hand Pearl Harbor over to the Chinese. Even Gorbachev supported Putin’s decision.

I believe Obama’s finest moment was his refusal to accede to the Liberal Hawks and Neocons who wanted to arm the pro-EU faction of Ukraine. We’d have most likely ended up in a shooting war with Russia. Thank God (metaphorically, of course) Hillary didn’t get elected, or she would gone down that exact path.

Sure, if Pearl Harbor belonged to another country and we were leasing it and really intended on keeping in any case.

 

Let’s not forget that Hawaii was also ... annexed. Respect for sovereignty historically did not get in the way of acquiring strategic ports.


That was in the 1800s. Are you in favor of reinstating international norms from that time? If you want to make an “argument from history”, there is almost no behavior that you can condemn. People also frequently performed human sacrifice, historically.

1897 to be precise, so “almost 1900s”. But I agree that if we start justifying every reprehensible behavior that was “ok” 200 years ago we can go down that rabbit whole and get to justifying slavery etc. I think that we have outgrown many vices in past 100 years - so Im with you there.

Power politics, however, is something that is here to stay and history is a very relevant yardstick. Take Thucydides, for example, and his recount of Peloponnesian war. Two super powers were Sparta and Athens, also, there was this minor city-state Melos. Athens wanted it to become its ally, but Melos tried to claim neutrality, making justice based arguments that it is their right to be free, that Sparta and God (s) will help them if Athens choses to escalate to military action. yada yada…

After long back and forth Athens said - guys, you leave us no choice because we will appear weak if you don’t join us. Melos… decided “to keep it real.” Athens kept it “real-er” - they came, killed every man and sold women and children to slavery. So, if not for Thucydides we would have never even found out about their existence.

My (larger)  point is that political realism is alive and well and that the principle “strong do what they can and weak suffer what they must” is here to stay. And we, in US, fully subscribe to it - much more recent history (Panama, Nicaragua,  etc.) confirms it time after time.

 
 
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sojourner
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06 July 2018 11:56
 
okComputer - 06 July 2018 11:11 AM

1897 to be precise, so “almost 1900s”. But I agree that if we start justifying every reprehensible behavior that was “ok” 200 years ago we can go down that rabbit whole and get to justifying slavery etc. I think that we have outgrown many vices in past 100 years - so Im with you there.

Power politics, however, is something that is here to stay and history is a very relevant yardstick. Take Thucydides, for example, and his recount of Peloponnesian war. Two super powers were Sparta and Athens, also, there was this minor city-state Melos. Athens wanted it to become its ally, but Melos tried to claim neutrality, making justice based arguments that it is their right to be free, that Sparta and God (s) will help them if Athens choses to escalate to military action. yada yada…

After long back and forth Athens said - guys, you leave us no choice because we will appear weak if you don’t join us. Melos… decided “to keep it real.” Athens kept it “real-er” - they came, killed every man and sold women and children to slavery. So, if not for Thucydides we would have never even found out about their existence.

My (larger)  point is that political realism is alive and well and that the principle “strong do what they can and weak suffer what they must” is here to stay. And we, in US, fully subscribe to it - much more recent history (Panama, Nicaragua,  etc.) confirms it time after time.


Regarding the state of politics in the real world - that falls into the realm of things I make no pretense of understanding (also in that category- sports and math). I mean I can read about it on paper but I have little to no intuitive feel for how real world trade offs and bargains and so on happen. So who knows, maybe you’re right, maybe you’re wrong, I don’t feel I can assess that kind of thing.

Regarding the overarching arc of politics over long periods, that is more up my alley. I think the whole “the weak are beaten” line of thinking is sympathetic (acting primarily out of fear and in perceived self-defense is much more sympathetic than acting out of sadism, after all,) but there’s no real basis for it. For one thing, if this were entirely the case, we wouldn’t have pets or children living in the world today. Not only do we have them, but they often have an extremely high status of sorts. So clearly this is not simply human nature. For another, people don’t expend energy for no reason. If you want evidence of this, think about how often people beat up inanimate objects. Close to never, because there’s no point. There has to be some sort of cause effect relationship where aggression leads to a desired end - but here’s the rub - that requires desire, which means desiring something, which means valuing at least something in this world other than aggression. Aggression that is a means to an end actually relies on the existence of another state of affairs that IS the desired end. Pretty much no ones desired end is a world of spending all day every day fighting or worrying about being attacked. That will always be the yin and yang of the material world keeping each other in check, I think, so to say that life is simply survival of the strongest is false. The strongest person in the world wouldn’t survive if they didn’t want anything, and once they do, they are no longer stronger than the thing they want, because now that thing controls their behavior. And whatever it is that they want, it can only be based on a wish for happiness, even if it’s only their own happiness. So this wish for happiness is simply basic to human nature, it’s an animating principle, and this wish can never be fulfilled by constant strife.

 
 
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