Sunday, May 03, 2015

Sit Down. I Have Shocking News

Are you sitting? Good.

Ted Galen Carpenter says that we are alienating Russia and risking getting their help on issues that concern us:

Washington and its NATO partners must come to grips with the unpleasant reality that maintaining (much less tightening) economic sanctions on Russia may entail major geopolitical costs in regions far removed from Eastern Europe. The Middle East is likely to be a prominent arena for such blowback, unless the Western governments modify their overall policy toward Moscow.

I know. Ted Carpenter counsels retreat? Shocking.

Apparently, it isn't the fact that Russia is invading Ukraine, denying Ukraine is a real country, making noises about retaking the Baltic states, threatening other NATO members including those on our side of the Iron Curtain when it fell, violating arms control agreements, and rattling nuclear sabres that is wrecking relations between America and Russia. No, the problem is that we have reacted to Russia's aggression.

If only we'd just lighten up and tell Ukraine to lie back and think of the CATO Institute, we'd be much better off.

I have nothing but contempt for Carpenter. His solution to every foreign threat (in 19 books and over 600 articles) is that we should do nothing because either others will solve the problem without us or we should actually be happy with the outcome of some aggression or threat that we wrongly think is a problem.

Next month you can look forward to his article about how we need to accommodate Russia's objectives in the Middle East to get Putin's help to solve our problems in Europe.

Carpenter's cry is far from the common sense notion that we don't have to send in 100,000 troops to fight every threat everywhere. It lies below "leading from behind," assuming that others will do what we want if we simply ignore them and the threat we face.

Heck, it lies even below the Karma Doctrine.

Question: Why would Russia help us in the Middle East when our retreat before them in Europe would simply indicate that we will retreat before them in the Middle East, too?

Does Putin really look like the grateful sort?

"The so-calling ruling classes, political and economic elites like us only when we are wretched and poor and stand with a begging hand," he said.

Whenever Russia begins to grow economically and politically, the West, according to Putin, begins to punish it. Putin said that he does not view Western sanctions against Russia as a reaction to last year's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, but rather "an attempt to hamper Russia's development.

The man is several fries short of a Happy Meal.

Do you really imagine that Putin's Russia will join the long list of countries that will allegedly fight for our interests, thus relieving us of the responsibility?

If so, please contact me because I have a large sum of money locked in a Nigerian bank that I will split 50-50 with you if you will supply the money to pay the banking fee needed to release the cash to me.

Putin is self-alienating. The solution isn't to convince ourselves that he is our fault.

UPDATE: Related:

Mr. Putin’s assertion that the West has been acting out of a desire to sunder Russia’s power and influence is a willful untruth.

The fact is that thousands of Americans went to Russia hoping to help its people attain a better life. The American and Western effort over the last 25 years — to which the United States and Europe devoted billions of dollars — was aimed at helping Russia overcome the horrid legacy of Soviet communism, which left the country on its knees in 1991. It was not about conquering Russia but rather about saving it, offering the proven tools of market capitalism and democracy, which were not imposed but welcomed. The United States also spent hundreds of millions of dollars to make Russia safer from loose nukes and joined a fruitful collaboration in outer space. Avid volunteers came to Russia and donated endless hours to imparting the lessons of how to hold jury trials, build a free press, design equity markets, carry out political campaigning and a host of other components of an open, prosperous society. The Americans came for the best of reasons.

Yes. Which is why Putin's attitude has been so maddeningly frustrating. Russia could have joined the West. I wanted them to. The West wanted them to. Hell, much of their empire wanted to join the West and they've prospered. Russia could have prospered, too.

But no, Putin exploited deep-seated paranoid tendencies in Russia to build his autocratic base of power.

So here we are confronting an aggressive Putin who tries to explain to a bewildered West that Russia is finally on to our plots and will bury us.