26 February 2022

Putin aggression

 I have a good friend who is actually saying that Biden and Obama are as bad or worse than Putin, citing the air invasion of Libya. He told me some months ago he considers RT (Russia Today) a more reliable news source than, say MSNBC. I shake my head. I don't argue with him, because I don't think there's much point, but I really do feel that this has gone beyond the point that that is even a comprehensible position to take, given what has happened. Sure, the invasion of Iraq and the forever war in Afghanistan were unjustifiable. I am in agreement with him that US interventionism since 1945 has been mostly unjustified, and that war should not be in the discretion of the executive, but should only be engaged in when Congress authorizes it. I even agree that the expansion of NATO was probably a mistake (although it was a consensus mistake that could've been stopped as easily by Britain, France or Germany as by the US). And that Russia does have legitimate security concerns. But it is also the case that Russia gave supposedly ironclad security guarantees and recognized a sovereign and independent Ukraine in exchange for the removal of nuclear weapons. So there is no way around it: this is territorial aggrandizement. The US was at least nominally protecting a border, not seeking to add territory, in Vietnam. The war in Iraq (second time) was probably the closest analog to what Putin is doing in Ukraine, and I do blame Bush for establishing a precedent that an autocratic dictator like Putin can point to to justify incursions into Georgia, Crimea, even Chechnya, and now Ukraine.  

But the bottom line is that we are looking at a land war in Europe, and the destabilization of a world order that has kept basic peace on a global scale since 1945. Sure there have been evil deeds on both sides. But to my mind this is the worst; the greatest threat to global stability at least since the Mideast war in 1973. So I cut Putin no slack. This is a travesty and a war crime, and we are facing a global crisis of the first order because of his deranged aggression, which cannot possibly benefit his country or his people in either the short or the long run. Trying times. I'm imagining people living in places like the Baltic republics, Moldova, and the "near abroad" as the Russians call it in general are legitimately very, very worried right now. 

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