Sovereignty Is Such a Lonely Word

Two decades of promiscuous intervention softened the ground for Putin's expansionism.

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The neocon right, while sharing many of the same humanitarian concerns, is more focused on combating specific dictators. The Bush-Cheney administration's September 14, 2001, Authorization of the Use of Military Force gave the U.S. an open-ended legal rationale for waging the War on Terror wherever it is perceived to be, regardless of who runs the territory. So it is that America is killing people in countries, such as Yemen and Pakistan, with which we are not at war.

Vladimir Putin is a hypocritical authoritarian with blood on his hands and expansionism in his heart, as he follows through on longstanding political promises to undo the humiliation of the Soviet Union's imperial collapse. But he is not operating in a vacuum. The United States and the western world are rightly weary of the wars that followed from interventionist impulses of the American right and left. And the Bush-Gorbachev principle of not tolerating larger states devouring their smaller neighbors has been tattered by sovereignty-busting exercises from Kosovo to Iraq to Libya.

Most people no longer believe in a new world order, and they are right not to. But as we transition into whatever comes next, it's worth lamenting the degradation of an important taboo. No, we should not be shooting at Putin. But nor should we be greeting invasions with a world-weary shrug.

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  • gaijin||

    we should not be shooting at Putin. But nor should we be greeting invasions with a world-weary shrug.

    What we should not do is easy to state. What, if anything, we should do is why we have leaders and principles to guide them. Not sure what principles would guide our involvement in Eastern Europe.

  • Sevo||

    "Not sure what principles would guide our involvement in Eastern Europe."

    The principle I favor is self-defense, meaning we have no reason to be 'involved' with eastern Europe at all.
    Let the Euros provide their own damn defense.

  • Lyle||

    The problem with this argument is that Russia's actions are nothing like America's actions. Russia is trying and succeeding in expanding its borders, while the U.S. has been fighting al Qaeda where it can (9/11 was unfortunate wasn't it?) and eliminating weirdo dictators. Only one of the two countries is devouring sovereign land.

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    You don't have to physically occupy land to control it. US imperialism is more effective than Putin's regardless of who is using actual boots on ground.

  • Lyle||

    We don't control Libya or Iraq man. So I'm pretty sure your thesis about "US Imperialism" is wrong.

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    The world's a lot bigger than Libya and Iraq, and my argument about boots on ground should have been a clue to think about other imperialist ways. Anyone who doubts the US has been mighty imperialistic since 1945 hasn't been paying attention.

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    Once again, a history lesson is in order. Putin's expansionist policies are NOT motivated by "the Soviet Union's imperial collapse.

    Most Americans, who usually get their history wrong while having contempt for it at the same time, forget that all Putin is doing is attempting to reestablish the Russian Empire created by Peter The Great and others through many centuries.

    When the Bolsheviks took over Russia in 1917, they legally inherited the Russia Empire to include White Russia and the Ukraine and so on. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, member regions of the empire supported by the U.S. in the wake of Russian weakness seized the opportunity to declare independence.

    Clearly, Russia (now under Czar Putin) does not really recognize the independence of these places and is behaving in a Russian manner to get them back. Russia probably will get them back anyway. The result will be a continued U.S. presence in Europe and a new Cold War with Russia.

    Anyone interested in this issue should take a look at "Empires Apart, A History of American and Russian Imperialism" by Brian Landers.

  • Sevo||

    "The book Empires Apart by Brian Landers is probably the most disorganized, sloppy, under-edited and over-written thing I have ever read. I was attracted by the title to the interesting subject of comparing imperial expansion in the US and Russia. However, the author provides virtually no basis on which to draw any useful comparisons."

    The editorial reviews aren't quite as complimentary.
    The fact that at one time Russia ruled X area may or may not mean a damn thing.


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