World War 2

World War II Started 75 Years Ago Today, Still Shaping Foreign Policy

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Panel from Skyliner depicting Germany, USSR, invading Poland
Skyliner

Seventy-five years ago today, Nazi Germany invaded Poland, kicking off World War II in Europe. Two weeks later, the Soviet Union would join and invade Poland too. In 1941, Adolf Hitler would turn on the Soviet Union, driving that country to the Allied powers. Today, Russia, the successor state to the Soviet Union, still uses its role in the latter part of World War II to frame its wider foreign policy. Putin once said World War II gave Russia a "great moral right" to a "security strengthening" foreign policy because of the Soviet Union's role in defeating Nazi Germany.

In the United States, meanwhile, politicians don't tend to invoke World War II in the same way. Nevertheless, America's role in World War II (which began in December 1941 after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor), for better or worse, also shapes America's foreign policy today. Its commitments to the United Nations, and to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), are directly linked to World War II. Those commitments haven't been revisited even though the war ended nearly 70 years ago.

Panel from Skyliner
Skyliner

NATO may have been useful during the Cold War, too, but the Soviet Union collapsed 25 years ago. Since then, NATO's been used to enrich Western military interventions in places like Kosovo and Libya, the latter of which has contributed to a deteriorating security situaiton in North Africa and the Middle East, but hasn't appeared necessary as a strictly self-defense alliance. Recent events in Ukraine, where Russia, NATO's historical nemesis, has seized Crimea and generally treated Ukraine's sovereignty as optional while operating in and near the country, have led NATO to announce the creation of a "rapid response force." Yet while Russia's actions in Ukraine may threaten the interest of the European Union, they have nothing to do with the security of any NATO country. Ukraine has warned that its conflict with Russia could be the biggest since World War II, but several months into the crisis it continues to directly involve only two countries, Ukraine and Russia.

The notion that the U.S. "ought" to be concerned about Russia in Ukraine isn't based on any contemporary political configuration but on the legacy of World War II (which happened to start when an aggressive country began seizing land it said its countrymen lived in) and the Cold War that followed. So the United States' commitment in 1941 to defeat Japan, which attacked it, and its allies Germany and Italy, has led to Europe, which was on the verge of being overwhelmed by the Nazis before the U.S. entered World War II, to continue to rely on American military power and expenditures to advances its own agendas. It's an arrangement that ought to have been revisited decades ago. More than 100,000 U.S. troops remain in Germany and Italy.

Panels from Skyliner
Skyliner

World War II didn't just have a lasting impact on international politics, it had a profound effect on the people who lived through it, as all wars do. My 81-year-old dad, whose novel about life in post-war Poland we adapted into a graphic novel about jazz, sex, money, and dodging the American draft, talks about World War II every day. He spent the first two years of the war living under Soviet occupation. You can download the first two issues free here.

When the United States and its allies, including the Soviet Union, won World War II those people living in areas "liberated" by the Soviet Union lost. The countries of the eastern bloc spent the next 40+ years under communist rule if not occupation. None of them were communist before World War II, and a number, like Poland, had been invaded by the Soviet Union when it was allied with the Nazis. One of the unintended consequences of World War II was the burden of a half century of communism over half of Europe.

I uploaded a six-page selection from the third issue of Skyliner about "War Criminals" that illustrates what some of the aftermath of World War II looked like in places like Poland. You can check out the pages here.

As you may or may not know, last week I launched a Kickstarter to print Skyliner as a graphic novel. You can check that out here and watch the video with my dad below:

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  1. You know who else had a rapid reaction force?

    1. Cobra Commander?

    2. Any number of failed male porn stars.

    3. Ayn Rand?

      I mean, say anything even slightly negative about her. I dare you.

    4. Jennifer Lawrence’s agent?

    5. Duncan Idaho?

  2. As you may or may not know, last week I launched a Kickstarter to print Skyliner as a graphic novel.

    You did? You should mention that on Twitter.

    :p

      1. Not so fast. Maybe you should poll some millennials first.

        1. They like it but wish the communists didn’t look so bad

          1. So, Feelz. Figures.

  3. Where’s Richman, Raimondo and Rockwell to point out that Poland bordered Germany, was run by a dictator and was mean to the German minority?

      1. So Poland and FDR made Hitler do it?

  4. The Soviet Union collapsed, but it’s successor regime is forcibly taking over territory that once belonged to the Soviet Union but not to it’s successor.

    And it’s nothing to worry about because of graphic novels or something.

    1. The EU has taken much more territory.

      1. Not by force. Remember that Non Aggression Principle that folks here are so hot for? That could make the situations different.

  5. I don’t know if you guys knew this. . .but there used to be Nazis.

    1. *Used* to be?!? This site is run by Nazis.

  6. The period from the Hitler-Stalin Pact in August 1939 until the German invasion of the USSR in June 1941 is fascinating to me. All the Western Communist parties did a 180 degree turn, and suddenly the Nazis weren’t that bad. They were fellow fighters against capitalism! The roll of shame is long: Lillian Hellman, Dashiell Hammett, Herbert Aptheker (who I believe joined the CPUSA shortly after the Pact!), Dalton Trumbo, many others. On the other hand, many communists abandoned the Party at that time.

    1. Didn’t Trumbo become an FBI informer naming names of peoples who wanted copies of Johnny Got His Gun?

    2. Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact

      /pedant

      1. INCENDIARY RHETORIC!1!1!1!!

        1. PEDANTIC REPLY!!!!

    3. I like to mention this when talk of McCarthyism comes up, and a lot of people get really pissed.

      And then there are the people claiming it’s the west’s fault for pushing Stalin into Hitler’s arms.

      1. “And then there are the people claiming it’s the west’s fault for pushing Stalin into Hitler’s arms.”

        Stalin was looking for someone a little taller, apparently.

  7. Never get involved in a land war in Asia.

    1. One time I went in with a Sicilian when death was on the line. It didn’t turn out so well.

  8. It’s also shaping domestic policy. The fact that the Soviets were nominal allies of the US and Western Europe in the war is one of the big reasons the chattering classes have the meta-context that totalitarian collectivism generally thought to be from the right (Fascism) is evil and how dare you make any excuses for it, while totalitarian collectivism thought to be from the left (Communism) is something that you’re expected to make excuses for.

    1. Gawd, don’t you fibertarians know anything? Violent conflicts waged in the name of racial/national collectivism is totes evil and right-wing! Violent conflicts waged in the name of class/national collectivism is the will of the people and totes good!

    2. Can’t forget that both world wars were regarded as proof that central planning works.

  9. There were actually five world wars, and the one we refer to as “World War 1” wasn’t one of them.

    It could be argued that the “War on Terror” is the sixth world war.

    1. Interesting. Which five would you pick?

      1. Which five would you pick?

        The Seven Years’ War would be one, known around these parts as the French and Indian War, with fighting taking place on every continent except Australia and Antarctica.

        1. Do the Napoleonic Wars not count? I’d hope so.

        2. I think it was just one long war and it is not so much global as it is England’s war with everyone else.

    2. “World” wars are generally considered based not on the locations of the battlefields being global so much as the combatants themselves drawing in forces from all over the globe. Given the reach of the British, French, and Ottoman Empires of the WWI period, the combatants were comprised of members from each and every continent on the planet.

      1. Well, except for Antartica

          1. +1 The Mountains of Madness

  10. It was a class I took in college; I don’t remember them all.

    “World War One” was fought mainly in Europe, which is why the professor excluded it.

    He included wars that included fighting in the colonies, like the War of the Spanish Succession, or as it is properly known, “Queen Anne’s War”.

    1. WWI was mainly fought in Europe, but it was fought with global ambitions in mind. Germany’s end goal was to whittle far away colonial possessions off of the French Empire.

      1. You’re not convincing anyone with your revisionist history, you know.

        World War I was incorrectly named by the guys on Madison Avenue in order to make a buck.

        I do like the Cuban’s description of the period: “The Dance of Millions”.

        1. WWI was called “The Great War” until they decided to make a sequel.

      2. “A world war is a war involving some of the world’s most powerful and populous countries. World wars span multiple countries on multiple continents, with battles fought in multiple theaters.”

        I looked on Wikipedia. Now I’m going to touch you.

        1. WWI featured fighting in the colonies too you know. And the British and the Germans fought naval battles all over the world. Even places like Canada, Australia and the US invoked conscription in order to fight it.

          1. How many angels can dance on your head?

            1. Four.

        2. Who cares? it’s a name.

          Nobody is going to change the name of World War I at this point, because then you would have to renumber WWII, and that would confuse the fucking shit out of everyone. Language is socially constructed. Everyone accepts WWI as the name of the conflict in Europe between 1914-1918, and as long as everyone else knows what “World War I” refers to, communication is possible, and that is all that matters.

          1. Nobody is going to change the name of World War I at this point

            They said man would never get to the moon, too.

      3. “WWI was mainly fought in Europe”

        And Africa – didn’t you watch *The African Queen*?

        1. And Asia. well, everywhere that the major powers had colonies or dependent states. It may not have been up to the scale of the Somme, but it was still armed conflict.

      4. “WWI was mainly fought in Europe”

        And Africa – didn’t you watch *The African Queen*?

  11. Don’t have time to check all the other comments, but I noticed that in referencing today’s Ukraine situation, the writer doesn’t note that the whole fracas has started because western Ukraine (notably Galicia) used to be part of Poland and was home to the 19th-century nationalist/Marxist movement which espoused the “Ukrainian” identity.

    Today’s Ukraine is a Georgian Marxist’s creation from a 19th-Century reunion fantasy. NATO’s “rapid response force” is being created to “protect” Stalin’s creation.

    1. Amazing how that nationalist/Marxist movement managed to invent an entire language called “Ukranian” and convince everyone to speak it.

      1. As they say, “a language is a dialect with an army and navy.”

      2. HazelMeade|9.1.14 @ 7:07PM|#
        “Amazing how that nationalist/Marxist movement managed to invent an entire language called “Ukranian” and convince everyone to speak it.”

        According to Pipes, ‘everyone’ didn’t speak it and it wasn’t required that they do so. Pace HM’s comment, it was ‘pushed’ in the urban areas, since that’s where the ‘importance’ was (the newspapers rather than the military).
        That was enough to establish a “Ukraine” in Paris, 1919, I’m pretty sure.

  12. “Since then, NATO’s been used to enrich Western military interventions in places like Kosovo and Libya… “

    Enrich?

    anyone care to explain what that word means in this context?

    Also = new topic in “why the Libertarian ‘Interventionism/Non-Interventionism’ thesis is so fucking stupid”

    – How are Libya and Kosovo anything like one another… from any POV?

    i.e. – ‘as though this monolithic term ‘intervention’ encompasses every single kind of unilateral/multilateral use of force imaginable, regardless of what the ostensible purpose or casus belli may be

    I suppose one could go as generic as possible and say that both involved ‘dictators’ who represented regional security threats… but i don’t see Ed saying anything here other than something about how NATO serves as an ‘enabler’ of vague, unnamed ‘western interests’

    ” while Russia’s actions in Ukraine may threaten the interest of the European Union, they have nothing to do with the security of any NATO country.”

    didn’t Ed start this piece talking about Polish security?

    Because I think they’d like to speak for themselves on the matter, rather than let people like Ed make that call for them.

    1. ‘as though this monolithic term ‘intervention’ encompasses every single kind of unilateral/multilateral use of force imaginable, regardless of what the ostensible purpose or casus belli may be

      Doesn’t appear Ed actually thinks that:

      https://reason.com/blog/2014/08…..uce-conduc

      In that vein, Egypt, along with the United Arab Emirates, also recently conducted air strikes against radical Islamist militants making gains in Libya. That country has been sliding into instability since the West’s hit-and-run intervention in 2011 that helped an assortment of rebels overthrow the government of Col. Qaddafi, leaving that government’s massive weapons stockpiles for the taking of all kinds of miltiants, from Nigeria to Syria. Despite the Obama administration’s contribution to this chaos, the U.S. government appeared to lament Egypt’s “intervention” in Libya as an “escalation” of the turmoil, according to USA Today. Yet Egypt is far more staked in a stable Libya than the U.S. is, and their willingness to step up there too is more evidence that U.S. non-intervention can spur regional powers to take more responsibilities and not, as interventionists argue, create more chaos. In fact, that’s what interventions tend to do.

      1. Yes, this too.

        I’m confused. Gilmore doesn’t understand what the NATO-backed intervention in Libya has to do with the NATO-backed intervention in Kosovo in a statement about NATO?

        I’m not looking for anyone to agree with anything I say, but I’m getting a little tired of people pretending they don’t have a clue what I said, like I’m writing in Polish or something.

        1. Yes, this too.

          So care to explain how Egyptian airstrikes in Libya aren’t “intervention” while US airstrikes are?

          Or how interventions create chaos except when they don’t?

          1. Read the articles. Egyptian airtstrikes in Libya are an intervention, one less likely to be a failure because of the stakes involved. It would’ve been clearer if I specified in the last sentence that I’m referring to American intervention and intervention-from-a-distance, but if you read the whole article with an interest in what I’m trying to say and without preconceived notions about what libertarians think about intervention I think you’d catch the drift.

        2. I like the part about “hit and run intervention” since isn’t the libertarian foreign policy that the US should remove its troops everywhere and intervene nowhere and leave those countries to their fate even if the US intervention made things worse? Like Iraq?

          1. No, this is your caricature of “libertarian foreign policy”

            1. No, this is your caricature of “libertarian foreign policy”

              Um okay. I’ll be clear and say that by “remove its troops everywhere” I was referring to US overseas bases, not to military bases in the US itself (though don’t minarchist libertarians want to cut some of those as well?).

              So how is what I said a caricature? Isn’t libertarian foreign policy anti-war non-interventionism which means the US shouldn’t have any foreign military bases and should only act in self-defense and not intervene in any foreign conflict?

              And what do libertarians propose to do about ISIL? If “don’t intervene” then how does that not mean to leave Iraq to its fate? Intervening to make up for ousting Saddam and causing chaos is more intervention after all.

              1. I don’t think thinking about libertarians as a monolith is helpful, in foreign policy or anywhere else. What you described is one type of libertarian foreign policy.

                What does anyone propose to do about ISIS? I haven’t seen anything that looks like a solid plan to deal with ISIS from any part of the political spectrum. Certainly I believe leaders in capitals closer to where ISIS is are a lot more incentivized and motivated to come up with a plan that could work than, say, at the White House. Having the whole world rely on the US for stability is not good for the world, the US, or stability.

                1. Certainly I believe leaders in capitals closer to where ISIS is are a lot more incentivized and motivated to come up with a plan that could work than, say, at the White House

                  So TOP MEN aren’t in charge, how libertarian.

                  And the US is close to Mexico, Canada, Haiti and Cuba and do you oppose US interventions in those countries?

        3. “I’m not looking for anyone to agree with anything I say, but I’m getting a little tired of people pretending they don’t have a clue what I said,”

          I don’t have a clue what you meant by “enrich”. (as noted)

          If it was just “enable”, dressed up to impress, then fine.

    2. It means NATO is used to provide cover for its member states interest in foreign intervention. Neither the mission in Kosovo nor the one in Libya had anything to do with the defense of any NATO countries, the only stated purpose of NATO. As for Poland, of course they’re the most worried about Russia’s actions in Ukraine. But they aren’t delinquent on their gas bill and don’t have leaders who plan to get wealthy by getting in bed with the Russians, so I don’t think they have much to worry about. I mean, even the interview you linked to indicates Poland is interested in improving relations with Russia, not antagonizing it, and certainly not “taking a stand” over Ukraine. Poland is in NATO, and that makes a huge difference as long as NATO’s seen as a mutual defense organization and not something to be used to legitimize Western interventions as something other than what they are.

      1. re: “”It means NATO is used to provide cover for its member states interest in foreign intervention.””

        “Cover?” What kind of cover?

        You note that NATO has no mandate for anything aside from ‘territorial defense’. It would appear it doesn’t even do *that*.

        If it rather provides a ‘legal basis’ for member nations to participate in multilateral military actions, then that would be a more accurate way of describing it.

        My point was that ‘intervention’ is far too often used as a catch-all term to describe any and all/unilateral or multilateral coercive foreign policy, completely obscuring or even taking into consideration the actual purposes of said policy.

        It elides all distinctions relevant to the specific policies, and just seems to pretends ‘all actions NATO takes are equally unjustified’.

        I do think NATO should probably be disbanded. Nothing here makes that case very clear.

        Forgetting NATO entirely – the Budapest Memo by itself provides some legal justification for either US/UK (or both) to ‘intervene’ in aid of Ukraine. While i doubt they will – I’m surprised you make zero mention of it.

      2. re: “”poland is in NATO, and that makes a huge difference as long as NATO’s seen as a mutual defense organization””

        right.

        Which is why the statement, “”Russia’s actions in Ukraine may threaten the interest of the European Union, they have nothing to do with the security of any NATO country.

        seems a little bizarre.

        1. Which is why the statement, “”Russia’s actions in Ukraine may threaten the interest of the European Union, they have nothing to do with the security of any NATO country.”…

          I took that to mean that Russia’s actions in Ukraine threaten the EU’s potential expansion and financial interests rather than the territorial integrity of EU members who are also NATO members.

          1. Russia’s actions in Ukraine threaten the EU’s potential expansion and financial interests rather than the territorial integrity of EU members who are also NATO members.”

            Thats what i understood him to mean.

            Which is why i pointed out that Poland itself seems less blase about the ‘security’ issue. (see below)

            …and which i pointed out seems to run counter to the very first paragraph Ed wrote, noting that Poland has a long history of being beat up by neighbors.

            1. I’m not speaking for Ed, I don’t know what exactly he meant, but the feeling that while Polish anxiety may be historically understandable that Russia will not risk WW3 by invading Poland is not controversial. In fact, I think that’s the mainstream reading of the situation.

              That said, there are an awful lot of variables in play, so it’s a little more complicated than either NBD or neo-REFORGER. I think that the alarmists are jumping the gun, but it’s a situation worth keeping an eye on. The fire doesn’t have to start in your house to end up burning your house down, but neither is that a reason for hyper vigilance or to fan a spark into a flame just so one can relieve their anxieties by helping bring it into physical existence.

              1. Lol looking at the second part of that post it’s like I used the Tom Friedman column generator.

                What I should written was while Russia’s behavior is concerning NATO saber rattling is more likely to make the situation worse, rather than better.

                1. “while Polish anxiety may be historically understandable…

                  yes…

                  “…that Russia will not risk WW3 by invading Poland is not controversial”

                  Let’s be clear =

                  when someone says, ‘they face a security threat’, that does not necessarily mean they face imminent invasion.

                  That’s ‘not controversial’ either.

                  Poland has interests in an independent Ukraine just as the US has interests in Mexico not giving out frequent-flyer miles to (lou dobbs fantasy) ‘ISIS-In-Juarez’

                  My point is: i frequently hear this goal-post shifting argument from the ‘non-interventionists’ that what constitutes a ‘threat’ is nothing except ‘tanks crossing YOUR border’.

                  Poland sees tanks crossing Ukraines border. Telling them they ‘don’t have much to worry about’ is all fine and dandy for people 1000s of miles away.

                  Ed says, “Poland is interested in improving relations with Russia, not antagonizing it, and certainly not “taking a stand” over Ukraine”

                  Whatever ‘taking a stand’ means = they’re still asking for military aid, increased US involvement in regional security, and they express continued concern about Russian troops militarizing the Kaliningrad region, etc.

                  Acting like there’s “nothing to see here”, and that this is all an extension of ‘historical anachronisms’ is a little bit ridiculous.

                2. “NATO saber rattling is more likely to make the situation worse”

                  What i find strange about this whole situation…

                  …is that Russia can unilaterally annex Crimea…

                  …then foster an insurgency in East Ukraine…

                  …providing military hardware to said insurgents, who (while waging their little civil-war) inadvertently shoot down a *passenger airliner*…

                  …then Russia can get more directly involved, both firing artillery across the border and sending troops into Ukraine while maintaining a flimsy pretense that its doing nothing of the sort…

                  (all of this still ignoring that the US/Russia/and UK all had an agreement to support and ensure Ukraine independence)

                  …and the main concern that right-thinking people seem to have is that “NATO not inflame the situation“…

                  …by simply objecting to naked aggression, and upping security in the region.

                  Its like telling a battered wife that she really needs to work harder on her cooking.

                  1. What Russia is doing sucks. My family (one half, anyway) fled Ukraine to get away from the Soviets. I’m pretty sympathetic to their situation.

                    Putting right and wrong and personal feelings to one side and looking at it dispassionately leads me to believe there is absolutely fuck-all that can be done for Ukraine if sanctions and condemnation fail to dissuade Putin.

                    Looking at the situation from Russia’s perspective there was no way that Putin was going to let Ukraine’s turning away from the Russian orbit and embracing the EU go if he could stop it.

                    It’s difficult for a lot of people to believe but during the Cold War Russia was paranoid about NATO invading them. It was not fevered dreams of T-80s rolling to Normandy Beach that kept them up at night, it was the prospect of yet another great invasion from the West. Russia has been repeatedly invaded with catastrophic loss of life over the years, and it has engendered a certain national fear of it. It’s difficult for Americans to grasp because we have no such history, but it is very real and colors their world view.

                    However evil Russia’s various governments were they behaved pretty rationally within that paradigm.

                    If Mexico was about to join the Warsaw Pact after rejecting closer ties with the US in the 80s, say you can bet your bottom dollar that Uncle Sam would have been doing his level best fucking up those plans. This isn’t exactly the same, of course, but it is in the same vein.

                    1. They won’t feel safe until they’ve reconstituted their buffer states in some new fashion and they are going to keep at it until it gets done.

                      It’s wrong, but is NATO going to go to war over it? Hell no. The only thing slowing Putin down is trying to make it happen in the least financially painful way possible. I believe that Putin believes that the US Military understands that is the scenario, that there are niceties and rituals to be observed, he will do his and we will do ours and the forgone conclusion will unfold as reasonably as possible.

                      What could fuck it all up, though, is if nationalistic or militaristic sentiments get whipped up and the Top Men start getting pushed into doing things that start to queer the deal. It’s a volatile thing that’s happening even if it is, as I believe, a tacit understanding between the Top Men of the two powers that could go wildly wrong if it is made over complicated by military prick-waving.

                    2. as a follow on:

                      I don’t accept the narrative of “Russia reconstituting a ‘security buffer'” … to ‘feel safe’? at all. Because if a massive nuclear arsenal + the largest national territorial landmass on earth isn’t enough? Nothing is.

                      i do believe they’ll continue to look to reintegrate former soviet states. Belarus and Kazakhstan, others. Simply because they know no other role to play other than regional hegemon.

                      pretending that we should be sympathetic to their regional desires because of… paranoia? I already grant the Chinese an ounce or two of that, but not the Russians.

                    3. I don’t accept the narrative of “Russia reconstituting a ‘security buffer'” … to ‘feel safe’? at all. Because if a massive nuclear arsenal + the largest national territorial landmass on earth isn’t enough? Nothing is.

                      A lot of Western people don’t grasp it, so I’m not surprised, but it is real. It doesn’t matter if it makes sense to us it’s about what makes sense to them.

                      pretending that we should be sympathetic to their regional desires because of… paranoia? I already grant the Chinese an ounce or two of that, but not the Russians.

                      I don’t feel sympathetic to either China or Russia. Most specifically their governments and oligarchs can get fucked. I just try to acknowledge and understand their motivations to help me understand why they do what they do and form an opinion on what we should do about it (if anything) when they act based on these beliefs.

                      Please don’t read any approval of Russia into what I’m saying. Putin is an evil fuck and people are dying because of him. Unfortunately I see little that can be done to change that given the circumstances that obtain.

                    4. “Putting right and wrong and personal feelings to one side

                      i generally find expressions like this to mean, “lets pretend”

                      “… looking at it dispassionately leads me to believe there is absolutely fuck-all that can be done for Ukraine if sanctions and condemnation fail to dissuade Putin…”

                      because ‘sanctions and condemnation’ are the only tools of foreign policy any ‘dispassionate’ person believes *achieve anything*?

                      Or are they just the things that, in theory, “cost nothing”?

                      (FWIW – i have never seen sanctions that weren’t ‘worse than nothing’, and ‘condemnation’ is simply a gesture for domestic political consumption)

                      All i hear is, “its not *worth* doing anything more than that” – and ‘more than that’ means a lot of different potential options.

                      – e.g. actually meet the vague terms of our security agreements under the Budapest memo, and offer limited military assistance to Ukraine, either unilaterally or via NATO or whatever.

                      maybe that’s true, and its not worth anything more; maybe its not.

                      What i don’t really accept is the default attitude that all ‘intervention’ necessarily leads to worse outcomes. Which seems to be the foregone conclusion, dressed up with post-hoc rationales to make it seem as though there was actually some consideration of alternatives when there really wasn’t.

                    5. i generally find expressions like this to mean, “lets pretend”

                      Whatever you prefer, dude.

                      Or are they just the things that, in theory, “cost nothing”?

                      Sanctions are a pretty poor tool for stopping something in progress, but can be useful for possible restraining future behavior by producing at least some negative consequences. (This assumes rational actors) What’s the alternative to it here?

                      actually meet the vague terms of our security agreements under the Budapest memo

                      Not happening, man, and weren’t worth the breath they were stated with. Anyone who believes otherwise is fooling themselves. We are not risking war with Russia over Ukraine. It was monumentally foolish for them to give up their nukes and they are paying for it now.

                      What i don’t really accept is the default attitude that all ‘intervention’ necessarily leads to worse outcomes.

                      I don’t accept that attitude either. Each case must be taken in isolation. What I know (both from learning and first hand experience) is that the predicted costs, outcomes, and future conditions are often very difficult to accurately assess and caution should be the guiding principle in situations absent an immediate threat.

                      post-hoc rationales

                      Without post-hoc rationalization the internet would be full of nothing but boobie pics and kitty videos. 🙂 People of all ideological bents engage in hindsight bias, why not libertarians? No dogma is all-knowing, libertarians not excepted.

                    6. GILMORE|9.1.14 @ 10:37PM|#
                      “as a follow on:
                      I don’t accept the narrative of “Russia reconstituting a ‘security buffer'” … to ‘feel safe’? at all. Because if a massive nuclear arsenal + the largest national territorial landmass on earth isn’t enough? Nothing is.”

                      “Bloodlands”, “Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime”, “World at Arms”, “Peter the Great” and several others I’m not gonna look for on the shelf back there all suggest exactly that, so I’m gonna say my opinion differs. Russian paranoia seems to run deep and wide.
                      But let’s get down to cases: What is it you propose and why?

                    7. Those books are about modern, nuclear, post cold-war russia?

                      if not, i don’t see what your point is.

                      re: proposals –

                      I make clear whenever this comes up (and in repeat cases with you i believe) – i want to hear cases for a position based on merits.

                      The FP big-brains (or lack thereof) @ Reason and the readership both seem to start with conclusions and project outward to world events as they appear.

                      I’m primarily interested in a merit-based discussion on whether an Independent, Western Oriented Ukraine vs. “Western Russia” makes any significant difference in world affairs, for US or our Allies.

                      If it doesn’t, then “do nothing” probably is the best approach.

                      There isnt any attempt at that sort of thing here.

                    8. “”. It was monumentally foolish for them to give up their nukes and they are paying for it now.””

                      Well, its a good think North Korea and Iran don’t ever find themselves negotiating with Americans! what would they think.

                    9. The Budapest memo is not (at least in the US) a legally valid, binding agreement. The president cannot unilaterally make treaties, and it was never ratified by the Senate. Also, to me, it doesn’t really seem to obligate that any of the signers to intervene to stop one of the other signers from breaking it.

                    10. Calidissident|9.2.14 @ 12:46AM|#
                      “The Budapest memo is not (at least in the US) a legally valid, binding agreement.”

                      It is not a treaty, never was; simply an ad-hock arrangement to ease Ukraine out of the USSR on its collapse.
                      We could easily compare it to the ‘Carter Doctrine’; a statement of “feelz” and not much else.

                    11. “Calidissident|9.2.14 @ 12:46AM|#

                      The Budapest memo is not (at least in the US) a legally valid, binding agreement.”

                      No shit.

                      Most ‘international law’ is not ‘binding’. That’s not how it works really

                      (*with exceptions, but even those are simply ‘agreements about who does what about failed agreements’)

                      They are simply statements that are used to get deals done, and they rely entirely on the continued credibility of the people involved.

                      The fact that none of the signatories seem to regard the thing as valid anymore is all that matters.

                      What the agreement in theory provide is the ‘cover’ (to use Ed’s disparaging term) to act on the basis of the previous agreement. Everyone agrees Russia is in blatant violation (tho Russia still insists that US ‘meddling’ in the politics of the region broke the deal ‘first’)

                      if the US made a point of claiming Russia in violation themselves, and also claimed it justified X/Y/Z action (assuming w/the rubric of some international approval), that’s all that is required.

                      Acting on the pretense of ‘meeting one’s agreements’ is the very basis of why people continue to make them. Diplomacy without the threat/promise of action is basically domestic politics.

      3. “Poland is interested in improving relations with Russia, not antagonizing it”

        Sure.

        That apparently doesn’t preclude wanting the US and NATO to provide forces for their defense

        “In the longer-term perspective, what we would like to see very much in Poland is the development of NATO and American infrastructure and an increasing military presence of both the US and NATO in our country,” Siemoniak told Defense News in an exclusive interview on Wednesday.

        During his visit to Washington, Siemoniak said he will focus on the “long-term consequences” of Moscow’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and the build-up of Russian troops on Ukraine’s eastern border.

        Siemoniak said he did not want to focus on the number of troops that could be stationed in Poland and that any troop presence should be organized with the entire NATO alliance in mind.

        “Poland is very much interested in increasing the allied American presence in Poland,” Siemoniak said.”

        I know this was months ago; is there any indication the view has changed?

        I’d think a NATO member state actively calling for security assistance and saying that recent events on their borders creates ‘long term concerns’… seems to run counter to the case you’re making here, Ed.

  13. Dude has no clue whoich way is up.

    http://www.Crypt-Anon.tk

  14. Whatever one might think about military intervention in Ukraine, they remain one of the last countries to leave the grip of the Soviet Empire.
    Here they are, striving to reach out to the west, and become a freer place to live, and there is Russia, like a bloody zombie hand emerging from the grave to pull them back into their “sphere of influence”.

    We’re libertarians, and we’re suppose to be interested in freedom, and we celebrated the fall of the Soviet Empire. I see no reason why we ought to sit and do nothing while Russia attempt to reconstruct that empire. There are people who want to join the democratic, liberal traditions of Western Europe, and we should be supporting that.

    1. Their efforts to distance themselves from Russia have materialized in fostering ties with Western Europe. Western Europe is hardly a great model of libertarianism these days. Not claiming that Russia is significantly better though.

      1. Western Europe is infinitely more “libertarian” than Russia. Come on. Everyone in Western Europe has freedom speech and other basic rights, even if their economies are heavily regulated and they have high taxes. Russia is a corrupt autocracy ruled by a strongman. I have no idea what the tax rates are, but doesn’t it even matter? If you can’t do business without having connections to the ruling power or bribing the right people, you have no economic freedom anyway. There is no comparison.

        If the Ukrainians became more like Western Europe, their people would be far, far, better off. AND, it would serve as a model for Russians, that they, too, can overcome their legacy of authoritarianism and become a normal country, which is what Putin fears most of all.

  15. Just finished reading Martin van Creveld’s “The Transformation of War”.

    I need expert opinion.

    1. Did he just write a prophecy of what the 21st century will look like or am I being a hysterical civilian ninny?

    2. Never heard of it; link please.

      1. this may be useful

        http://www.globalsecurity.org/…..92/FKM.htm

        A quick gloss – seems he’s saying Clausewitz’s whole thing about Nation States being the prime actors is no longer valid… and that conflict will be necessarily ‘low intensity, and asymmetrical’ (nukes apparently make conventional direct largescale conflict obsolete)…

        apparently there’s more. Sounds (brief glance) like a more-war-centric version of Huntington, FWIW

        ” WAR IS…POLITICS/DIPLOMACY BY OTHER MEANS(~vonC.)”
        the implicit assumption which lies behind this declaration should be examined. It implies that armies must be governed by states and be subservient to their will. War becomes an instrument in the hands of the state, a means to an end. As we shall discuss later, it may be too restrictive to assume that war is always a means to an end. A strong argument could be made that war can be an end in itself. Van Creveld identifies conflicts such as political wars, religious wars, and struggles for national or ethnic existence which became much more than mere means to an end. Put another way, it is possible for policy,
        interests, and the definition of what is rational to change over time and to differ among cultures. To understand the nature of war, we must be sensitive to this possibility.”

  16. A bit off-topic, I spotted this blogpost about Ukraine.
    http://voxday.blogspot.ca/2014…..ns-eu.html

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