Wednesday, March 26, 2014

More Ukraine and Multi-polar Global Politics

The Ukrainian Education Minister Serhiy Kvit The Ideology of the EuroMaidan Revolution. (Kiev post op-ed, 24 March 2014.) I am far more inclined to credit this than Putin's creepy neo-Stalinist rants.

On 2 May 1998, New York Times commentator Thomas Friedman, to my astonishment, did something sensible: for an op-ed piece he interviewed George F. Kennan, who was 94 at the time, on the expansion of NATO. I suppose it would be wrong to reproduce all of Kennan's remarks, but I will quote some bits:

I think it is the beginning of a new cold war. I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else. … We have signed up to protect a whole series of countries, even though we have neither the resources nor the intention to do so in any serious way. … It shows so little understanding of Russian history and Soviet history. Of course there is going to be a bad reaction from Russia, and then [the NATO expanders] will say that we always told you that is how the Russians are -- but this is just wrong.
As was often the case, it seems that Kennan was right.


The Blog Fodder said...
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The Blog Fodder said...

I disagree totally with Keenan. NATO was designed to protect countries from Soviet expansion which was simply Russian Imperial expansion by another name. Everyone says "NATO expanded". No it did not! It was drawn forward by ex iron curtain countries.
The countries which had been under Moscow's heel and had finally broken free and become independent rightly feared for their freedom and were desperate to get under any kind of umbrella that would prevent that.
Was NATO to tell them, no we won't protect you, we will only protect those already in?

sglover said...

Yes, NATO was designed to ward Soviet expansion. That threat -- greatly exaggerated during much of the Cold War -- ended more than two decades ago.

I doubt that the former Warsaw Pact states, particularly Poland and then-Czechoslovakia, could have been kept out of NATO. As far as I know they were always desirable candidates for EU membership, and I imagine they would have insisted on NATO membership as a condition of joining the Union. So Kennan's advice was probably quixotic -- but no less prescient for that. Putin recently defended the Crimea annexation as a response to many years of western double standards, and he made a pretty good case.

Anyway, while NATO membership makes sense for the eastern European states, to my mind this Ukraine brouhaha demonstrates that the U.S. needs to quit. Lately it seems to function mainly as a cat's paw for more of the usual foolish adventures. (We went to war with Libya why, exactly?) And Europe now is nothing like it was in 1948. Europeans have more than enough wealth and population and technological acumen to look after their own defense.

The Blog Fodder said...

I agree that Europe needs to look after its own defence. Europe needs a non-USA defense agreement. Russian expansion is not over but Europe shoould deal with it. Unless as one commenter on another article noted, Germany and Russia are going to divide up Europe again.