It’s been another day and another provocation in the ongoing ICBM-measuring contest between Russia and the US that started sometime around when Obama’s State Department appeared to have first touched off the chaos in Ukraine and then threw salt in Putin’s eyes with sanctions for his predictable response.  Or before.  Maybe it was the missiles we put in Poland.  Or when we kept pushing NATO further and further east.  Or when we accused them of rigging the 2016 election.  Or way back when we made the Serbs stop killing everybody (that’s around when Lord Zedd was still running shit in the Lunar Palace for all the Millennials in our as-yet-non-existent audience).  Who remembers?

I should emphasize, being that this is my first post on this shiny new blog, that I’m not one of those alt-Right Putin Lovers (my wife thinks he’s hot, but she denies being deeply attracted to anyone who assassinates journalists before she’s had a chance to meet his mother).  I am, however, of the opinion that his conduct is largely driven first by his own rational self-interest and his own nation’s security interests.  That doesn’t make him a good guy or us bad guys, necessarily, but I do question why so many in DC are so eager to inflame a situation that is both avoidable and unwanted by those of us in the “hey, let’s not die in a fireball in 2018” faction of middle America.  I see Putin as a rational actor and I wish I could say for sure that this is also true of our own American leadership

I’m probably closer to a 1940-style isolationist Republican.  Sure, those guys look bad in hindsight and nobody is saying that the world isn’t better off that Germany lost WW2 (though I like to argue it would have been better if we let them win WW1); but it should be said that it’s true that if we didn’t want the Lusitania to get sunk we shouldn’t have loaded it up with weapons for the British; if we didn’t want war with Japan, we might have chosen not to back them into a corner with a crippling oil embargo over their conduct in a war that wasn’t ours in China; and if we weren’t itching to get into a war with Germany, there wasn’t really a need to help the Royal Navy hunt U-boats.  I see the events happening in Eastern Europe and Syria that are bringing us into conflict with Russia as….well…mostly being driven by our own actions and I hate to think we’re doing this to ourselves again.

Realistically, Russia is not a threat to the United States.  Red Dawn is even less likely a scenario than Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 in terms of Russia’s military capability.  They can’t invade us and I very much doubt they could even nuke us into oblivion if they wanted to.  We would win if it came to a hot war, of course, but it would be ugly and wouldn’t be easy.

To that, I have to ask, “So what if we win?”   Really, what is there to fight with Russia over that is absolutely essential to our own survival?  Ukraine?  Where much of the eastern half of the country identifies more with the Russians than the they do the western Ukrainians?  Eastern Europe and the Baltic Republics?  I think they’re nice people, but vital to us?  No.  The Free Syrian Army?  Don’t make me laugh, I’ll blow vodka out of my nose.  It’s like picking out the oldest, most broken down drunk in a bar to start a fight with because you saw him looking at some other guy’s girlfriend.

I sincerely cannot see any area where Russia threatens our future, but I see a whole bunch of ways we are threatening theirs.  Putin may one day have to face the same equation the Japanese did in 1941: completely submit to American authority under threat of economic ruin or war.  The Japanese carried out Pearl Harbor in the surprise manner they did because they understood that they were fundamentally a weaker country attacking a stronger one.  Putin too knows his own country’s limitations.  He’s not a madman, but at what point does he have to make a choice and what can he even do? Probably nothing good and even if it’s self-destructive, it will be us-destructive enough too.

This is one of those moments in history during which we need to examine what our foreign policy objectives are, the rationale for them, reflect upon the likely consequences, and then beat stupid the career diplomats, intelligence officials, members of Congress, and business interests who are pushing those objectives.  We can stop this.  Nothing is inevitable right now.

If WW3, is what we’re heading for, then I fear it’s going to be the same story as too many of our previous wars: if/when we get ourselves sucked into it, it will be our own fault and it won’t be any great consolation to all the dead people and their families that it was some sort of just and noble cause brought on by some other power’s atrocious response to our own attempt to force our will on them.

Ah, but what do I know? I’m a lowdown Putin Bro Internet troll for suggesting that our foreign policy should serve our national interests instead of warmongering millionaires or (more likely) misguided, moralistically warmongering idiots like John McCain.

6 comments

  1. I just wish the government would pick a consistent definition of what Russia is. If your party is a minority, Russia is a malevolent superpower stocked with evil geniuses hell bent on world destruction. If your party is in power Russia is an insignificant third world dictatorship, armed with nothing more than vodka fueled hobos.

    Which is it?

  2. Yeah, it’s hard to see how we’re ever going to be able to live with Russia if we don’t even understand what Russia is and why anything it does maters to us.

    I see Russia as a great power with enormous natural resources, an educated population, and vast security and economic interests that shouldn’t collide with our own. I don’t understand why we should be in conflict with Russia because I don’t see where we both have a vital interest in the same thing and should have conflict.

    Ukraine is vital to Russia. It just isn’t to us. Iran is vital to us, not to Russia. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to come to an accommodation.

  3. Putin is gonna push east as much as he can and is allowed to, to reclaim lands that have significant native Russians living there and to reclaim the old soviet state. In the end he is a pragmatist, he know he need to maintain a personal postion of strength against the west and near east, to maintain his power along with his ridding herd on the oligarchs that run the economic engine of Russia He doesn’t want a war and knows that would be bad for Russian , but hes not gonna let the west/NATO push up against his borders with out a reply.
    If anything we do have a common interest in stopping the rise of militant Islam, but both sides are willing to side with some of the worst prevaricators of such to further our goals. .. there is no real win here , just more ab miling along hopefully our troops do not end up with in rifle range and cross each others path on a op….

  4. Well it looks like Putin may or may not have tested s nuke in the Arctic. It’s a vast resource of unclaimed territory that we are ignoring and the Scramble for the Pole is well underway. I don’t think Putin wants a war either-he’s banking on Trump to help him maintain a new post-Obama world order, but given how unpredictable Trump is, who knows?

  5. To be sure, we will always compete with Russia. In fact, we compete even with our allies for certain resources, trade agreements, and other such things. Where I draw the line is people trying to turn Russia into an enemy. I don’t believe that there’s any basis for it.

  6. Russia is different from the U.S., with different culture, perspective, and interests. There will be times our interests align, and other times they conflict. I can’t say we have a lot in terms of shared values, but I don’t see what’s wrong with wanting a general peace and cooperation. This recent episode of the American left being reflexively antagonistic regarding Russia is strange, but peeling back the onion a bit, you can see this attitude is mostly because of domestic political reasons. Remember, it wasn’t too long ago that Hillary was presenting the “overcharge” button to the Russian foreign minister (intended to be a “reset” button, but someone didn’t know their Russkii yazik). On the right, on the other hand, we’ve seen a general fading of the old cold war biases against Russia, and a bit of temporary sympathy because of the D’s sudden recent antagonism.

    I favor a shared and lasting peace between the U.S. and Russia, but one based in mutual respect and with U.S. military supremacy undergirding that respect. We shouldn’t act arrogant or overbearing toward Russia, nor should we seek to antagonize them, but we should be strong in standing up for our own interests as well. The Russian view is much more traditional in many ways, so rolling over for them will only invite further initiative from them.

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