Anyhow, this post is about the
The big policy proposal is what has drawn most of my ire: "the West should seek to make Ukraine a neutral buffer state between Russia and NATO... like Austria during the Cold War." Yes, Ukraine should be treated like a hunk of the defeated power? While I agree that NATO expansion to Ukraine was and remains a bad idea, the neutrality of Ukraine happens to partially reside in Ukraine's hands. The country can choose to lean West and join various partnerships even if it is not invited to join NATO. After losing a significant hunk to Russia via Crimea and after paying a steep cost in lives and money due to Russia's war in the supposedly separatist regions, it is hard to see how any Ukrainian politician in the future could do anything but lean west. Neutral? Only kind of, sort of. Buffer? Only if Ukraine is denied agency. Not only does its domestic politics come into play here, but the day that Great Powers can impose their will like this is mostly gone. Hence this tweet last night:
I'd name it the Arrogance of Great Powers. "Hey! You are going to be a buffer state, and you are going to like it!" pic.twitter.com/fTUESJx8m1
— Steve Saideman (@smsaideman) February 9, 2015
"It is essential that Russia help end the fighting in eastern Ukraine and that Kiev regain control over that region." Sure, sure. "Help" since this suggests that the separatists have heaps of agency. Hmm, agency for the separatists but not for the state fighting them?
The truly strange thing about all of this is that it ignores a key reality that I referred to earlier: that alliance dynamics are different in a nuclear world. Why is Russia so concerned with "buffer" states and a Ukraine that is not in its orbit if Russia's security is assured by its nuclear weapons? It is not so much a Ukraine in NATO that threatens Putin, but a genuinely democratic Ukraine that is outside of Russia's dominance that seems to be the key. This all happened after a regime change in Kiev with NATO membership not a realistic possibility anytime in the near to medium future. Only those with Ukrainian immigrants were yammering for NATO membership (Canada/US). Ah, there is domestic politics again. Why should regime change matter to a Realist? Since it did not portend a sudden inclusion into NATO, its meaning might be something else. But that would be operating in places that old time Realists know not--domestic politics.
* Men? Yes, there are women who consider them realists, but the real Realists have much nostalgia for the old boys clubs of the past.
** Seems strange that for all of the complaining that Mearsheimer does about being ignored in 2003 during the Iraq invasion debate and how "marginalized" he has been as a result that he would still bother to write op-eds like this. After all, secret lobbies and lying politicians and all that.