Playing with fire, the vainglorious ass, Obama, has derided Russia by calling it merely a "regional powerWell, maybe, but it's a mighty damn big "region" and a well-armed "regional power" that has had a belly full of being pushed into a corner by ahistorical Jacobin asses such as our Maximal Leader. Great thumping words, President Obama, you posturing fool. So now it seems that not only must we hope for the counsels of restraint from Gen. Dempsey, but we must also hope for a policy of levelheadedness and unemotional situational awareness from President Putin and his advisors. Because for sure we are not seeing any of those admirable character traits on display from our own Misleaders, North American or European. I spent the days of my youth with the ultimate Sword of Damocles, nuclear war, suspended balefully over my head. And now these feckless buffoons casually toy with this again? Tell me who the grownups are again, please. - Jersey Jeffersonian
"The Sea of FaithWas once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furl'd.
But now I only hearIts melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world." Matthew Arnold
The President trying for historical importance? A Clear and Present Danger?
I don’t see what the big deal is in Obama calling Russia a regional power. This isn’t surprising. It was alright for Putin to scoff nonchalantly at Obama’s sanctions, but it’s perilous gamesmanship if Obama nonchalantly marginalizes Putin’s and Russia’s global significance?
I really think they’re trying to lure Putin into invading the remainder of Ukraine and having him choke on a long, bloody occupation. If he wants to play in a Man’s world, he has to pay a Man’s price. No more grandstanding on the periphery. His limits are being tested. Can he survive a Ukrainian invasion and occupation? I don’t think so, but I will say I’m not going to cower and be frightened of this potential madman. I don’t think he’s one, but from the sounds of this post the admonition is we should tread lightly with this man because he may be unhinged and psychotic. Well, if that’s the case, isn’t it Putin that should be the target of a future assassination, not Snowden? If Putin is potentially unhinged and unpredictable…so much so if he’s pushed beyond a certain point he’ll push those nuclear buttons, then he has to go, right?
For the record, I don’t think nuclear war is in the cards or even a remote possibility at this point. Obama laughed the notion off when the LaRouche goof accused him of trying to start a nuclear war in the press conference several weeks prior. And I don’t think Putin is that stupid or unhinged or psychotic. But he does have an ego…one larger than the power his country can back up, and I do believe he is going to bite off more than he can chew.
He’s no spring chicken. His aging despite work to the contrary and if he wants to make a name for himself in history, now is his time. What he thinks will be the defining pinnacle of his illustrious career may well be instead his nadir.
Obama’s playing great chess right now. I have to give him credit.
I share Jersey Jeffersonian’s disgust. Obama’s remarks are downright embarrassing. Those immature and dangerous remarks are something you would hear from a posturing tin pot dictator who’s secretly shaking in his boots. I’d expect this out of North Korea, not the United States. Contrast this with the actions of Bush the Senior and James Baker as the WTO and Soviet Union imploded. No bombast. No gloating. Just a quiet and discreet promise not to kick a still dangerous adversary as she stumbled.
interested in trying to solve the Problem: the Swiss: http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/politics/Swiss_try_middle_road_on_Russia_sanctions.html?cid=38244692
Perhaps there are other countries interested in this problem as well. The Czech Republic? Perhaps countries are waiting until after the Ukraine elections.
I don’t understand Obama. He’s a lame duck. He must realize that there is no Senate for D’s now. He needs to be reining in NATO and at least hinting at diplomacy. (Yes: I think US politicians are clueless enough to trade the risk of war for a few congressional seats.)
An irony is that, in his Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly last December, Putin quite clearly prided himself on the absence of pretensions on the part of the contemporary Russian Federation to being a superpower in the style of the former U.S.S.R., or the contemporary U.S.A. I quote:
‘We have always been proud of our country. But we don’t have superpower aspirations; we don’t want global or regional domination, we don’t interfere with anyone’s interests, trying to play a patron, we are not going to lecture others. But we will strive to be leaders by defending international law, making sure that national sovereignty, independence and identity are respected. This is a natural approach for a country like Russia with its great history and culture, its vast experience in the area of different ethnicities living in harmony, side by side, in one state. This is different from the so-called tolerance, which is gender-free and futile.
‘Today many countries revisit their moral standards, erasing national traditions and boundaries between different ethnicities and cultures. Society is asked to respect every person’s right to freedom of thought, political views and private life, which are good values. But now people also have to treat evil and good equally, which is strange, because these are opposite things. Not only does such destruction of traditional values have negative effects on societies, but it is also anti-democratic to the core, because these are abstract ideas applied to real life despite of what the majority of people think. Most people don’t accept such changes and suggested revisions.
‘And we know that more and more people in the world support our approach of protecting traditional values, which have been a spiritual and moral foundation of our civilization and every nation. We value traditional family and genuine human life, including a person’s religious life; not just material, but also spiritual values of humanism and the world’s diversity.
‘Of course, this is a conservative position. But as Nikolai Berdyaev said, the meaning of conservatism is not to prevent moving forward and upward, but to prevent moving backwards and downward, into chaotic darkness, back to the primitive state.’
(See http://rt.com/politics/official-word/presidential-address-federal-assembly-177/ )
The last thing I would want to do is to suggest that people should take what Putin says at face value, still less that they should agree with him. However, it really would help if people in the West bothered to read what he says – and also show the most fleeting interest in the influences to which he clearly points.
Back in the Eighties, attempting to explain what was going on in the Soviet Union, Professor Stephen F. Cohen recommended to his readers Berdyaev’s 1937 study of ‘The Origin of Russian Communism’ – a recommendation for which I have remained grateful.
Anyone who puts ‘Nikolai Berdyaev’ into Google will rapidly come across an anthology of English translations of his writings, including fascinating articles written at the time of the 1917 Revolution. From a 1917 article entitled, in translation, ‘Has There Been in Russia a Revolution?’:
‘The Russian people continues to decay out of a lack of strength, from a tyrannic anarchy, from churlish ignorance and darkness, from a lack of organisation and discipline, from the absence of guiding constructive powers. The “Bolshevik revolution” is one of the moments of the falling apart of old Russia, one of the transformations of the old Russian darkness. In all this there is no similitude to revolution, to democracy, to socialism, to any sort of deep change in society and the people. All this – is a subtle and vicious masquerade. The principles of arbitrary rule and despotism continue their triumphant march and they incite to orgy. In the old Russian arbitrary rule there was too much of the anarchistic and too few objective legal principles. And at present the anarchy and arbitrary rule are killing every right, every objective and legitimate truth. In old Russia there was not a sufficient respect for man, for the human person. But at present this respect is even less so. In entire classes of society man is denied, the person is not respected, and in regard to the classes of society admitting the revolutionary assertions, there is committed a spiritual homicide, which all too easily passes over into a physical homicide. The oneness of the human race is denied to a larger degree, than during the time of slavery. Even during the time of the slavery of serfdom, even during the time of the serf-owning right privileged Christians all the same still saw in both serfs and serf-owners a man, the image and likeness of God, i.e. at a particular depth they surmounted all the conditional and class oppositions and impediments. The present vicious and malicious division however into a world “bourgeois” and a world “socialistic” is an ultimate betrayal of Christianity and an ultimate denial of man, as one race in God. In this likewise can be seen a requital for old sins, for old discord and falsehood, but it would be madness to see in this something new, creative, transformative of life. The convulsive and monstrous end of the old man is impossible to conceive of as a principle of a new and better life.’
(See http://www.berdyaev.com/berdiaev/berd_lib/1917_284.html )
That was what Berdyaev meant by ‘chaotic darkness’.
I’d say that Obama was being realistic. But, as you note, not terribly diplomatic. To his credit, he hasn’t waxed eloquent on Putin’s Christianity, eyes, or his “Pooty-Poot”-ness!
It’s hard to know which opinion is/has been more damaging for the poor souls stuck within Russia’s region of greatest influence.
Mr. Obama is correct that the Russian Federation is a regional power: she is a regional power in Europe, a regional power in Near East, a regional power in Central Asia, and a regional power in East Asia.
I would say that a regional power in 4 important regions of the world must be considered a global power.
This paper by P. C. ROBERTS brings in both sadness and fear:
It describes unequivocally the incompetence of the US principal decision makers. The incompetence is the inevitable result of unaccountability.
“I would say that a regional power in 4 important regions of the world must be considered a global power.”
You are absolutely correct. That is an excellent way to characterize Russia’s position in the world.
Thanks DH for this comment! Important IMO!
You are quite right in calling attention to Putin’s speech, specially the part in which he emphasizes commitment to the family as a foundation of any civilization. And I think many Basic Laws, Constitutions, and Fundamental Laws all over the world also have explicit provisions in regards to family; e.g. Iran and Ireland.
By the way, take a look at this:
“For the record, I don’t think nuclear war is in the cards or even a remote possibility at this point.” What’s your level of toleration for the risk of nuclear war? 1%, 2%, 3%. What is it? Would you describe yourself as a neocon? Are you an anti Russian Ukrainian or other partisan? Were you ever in the US military or IC? pl
In the land of the “Perfidious Albion”
Paul Shearer (the man in the ad’ is (also) a journalist who lives in the East End of London, near Brick Lane.
Before becoming an actor, then a journalist, he did degree in…IT at the University of Cambridge.
Official Washington is just LOL ridiculous. Puny Iran has been painted as the latest incarnation of Nazi Germany for the past decade. Now Putin is dissed as nothing more than a regional power!
If nothing else, our august “leadership” delights in strutting its abject ignorance!
I’m hoping that BO was simplytrying a circuitous end around to trim neocon chickenhawks’ beaks–Let’s hope BO was saying that getting your feathers ruffled by Putin simply isn’t worth it.
Of course, it’s equally likely that BO was just engaging in some dangerous trash talk–like “f*** the EU!” Whatever BO said, his record shows that his words mean absolutely nothing. Problem is, some people still listen to him.
Kyooshtik: Is your post satire? Or are you just channeling Rachel Maddow?
Putin doesn’t need to invade Ukraine, he just has to turn it into another Greece, i.e., another EU economic sinkhole. Bail in, EU, Bail in!
By great chess, you mean Obama planned to alienate Egypt and Saudi Arabia, frighten the NATO border states, and watch helplessly as Putin took Crimea from Ukraine?
Someone, somewhere is also playing “great chess” by exchanging a queen for a rook without additional compensation. However, most people would consider that move a blunder.
\is the “Regional Power” meant to bait Putin?
What else could it be? pl
I don’t watch Maddow. Why is she mentioned? pl
“The exact numbers of nuclear warheads remain a subject of estimations and ongoing constant discussion depending on their respective source. The Federation of American Scientists estimates that Russia possesses 4,650 active nuclear warheads, while the U.S. has 2,468. Alexander Khramchikhin, an analyst at the Institute for Political and Military Analysis said Russia has 3,100 nuclear warheads while the U.S. has some 5,700. According to 2011 data from the New START Treaty Aggregate Numbers of Strategic Offensive Arms facts sheet, the United States has the largest number of deployed nuclear weapons in the world, 300 more than Russia.” wiki on Russian nuclear capability
Excellent description of Russia’s situation. In some sense, Russia has always been exactly that, rather than a “global power” in the sense US has been. With the exception of the Cuban missile crisis, Russia has not been willing or able to deploy serious military capabilities very far from its own territory perhaps since the time of Alexander I or Nicholas I. Its enormous size meant that just looking after its own “regional interests” meant getting involved in a lot of different places, however.
Possibly because on foreign policy she appears to be a mouth piece for the Administration & neocons ..
Slate speculating that the Crimea adventure may prompt China to move on Taiwan! Another Regional Power?
I just don’t see nuclear war manifesting. What would prompt it? A limited squabble in Ukraine where there are several thousand deaths on both sides isn’t going to spark a nuclear war. If the U.S,, or NATO, were to invade Russia proper or Russia were to invade a NATO country, yes, that would be potential grounds for a nuclear war, but let’s be honest, that’s not going to happen. Am I a Neocon? Not on your life. Did I serve in the military? Irrelevant to my observed opinion.
I’m an American who will get my President’s back, regardless of whether I like him or agree with him, before I get the tyrannical leader of another country’s back. I consider the latter treasonous. I am not a traitor. I am an equal opportunity critic. Putin’s a bully boy with too much unchecked power and a Western chip on his shoulder. He may be an expert chess player, but he’s obviously insecure and it shows.
I will say, my opinion is evolving as anyone’s should. A month and a half ago, I thought nuclear war was possible. Today, I don’t.
I don’t know whether we have to believe anything the Vladimir Vladimirovich has to say. I don’t think he’s addressing us primarily at all.
Kliuchevskii, the last of the great pre-revolutionary Russian historians, used to say that “when the State grows fat, the people grow thin.” From Peter’s time (most explicitly), the driver of the modernization of the Russian imperium was and remains the Russian State, invested with a sort of civilizing mission, standing above parties, factions, classes or particularist interests, a superordinate power that excluded, co-opted, closely regulated or actively repressed any initiative of civil society. The old regime came to stand on the slogan of “Autocracy, Orthodoxy and Nationalism” – though for most of the subjects of at least the Russian parts of the Empire, the figure of “the good and just Tsar” or “Little Father” as the guarantor of their interests was of primary importance. After 1917, the “shining future” of the revolutionary catechism struggled to replace the previous mythologies and, at least for those first generations who survived the civil war, de-kulakization and collectivization, the purges and the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945), there was probably a lot to recommend it. For the first time, ordinary citizens had mass access to literacy, medical care, education, professional achievement and a share in national progress that was openly acknowledged and celebrated.
The Russian State has collapsed twice in the 20th century. There are all sorts of factors that must be adduced as having conspired to produce these outcomes, but I am most struck by the degree to which, in both cases, the mass of citizens/subjects simply stopped participating in these mythologies.
The Yeltsin interval that was so lionized in the Western media and, frankly, salivated over by its corporate interests, proved to be a total disaster for Russia and set up the context of the fragmentation of power that Putin had to counteract during his first terms. This is obvious. The President of the Russian Federation is attempting to rebuild the Russian State’s capacity to act in the “Petrine” manner, both in terms of its internal modernization and its external relations with other states. That effort would seem to me to necessitate a reconstruction of a sort of “national idea” associated with the Russian ethnos: he is been banging on the old nationalist drum for some time now. I always assume therefore that, in these sorts of speeches, he is addressing a domestic audience as much as, if not more than a foreign one. The announcement of the Crimean annexation, in this connection, appears to have been enormously popular among the former.
As far as Berdyayev’s characterization, I’m just not sure (his somewhat rosy view of the era of serfdom strikes me as an odd bit of nostalgia). In Russia’s intellectual history, he was a “Westernizer”, as I recall, but this was not obviously a dominant strain. “In the old Russian rule, there was too much of the anarchistic and too few objective legal principles.” This is quite true and even a cursory look at the “Complete Collection of Laws of the Russian Empire” in three series is a good demonstration. But another way of looking at what Berdyayev is saying, of course, is that Russian absolutism, understood as the personal authority of the ruler, had far deeper roots from that which long held sway in the West (I am thinking of Louis XIV), and pervaded not only the direction of state affairs, but the whole hierarchy of social relations. In particular, institutions and laws had no autonomy other than as extensions of the will of the Grand Prince-Tsar-Emperor – these were what Stalin later called “transmission belts”. But it was not only a matter of the higher state administration under the old regime: relations between lord and peasant, between peasants and their own elected officials, between factory owner and worker, between state functionaries and their “clientele” all bore the deep imprint of this same sense of the primacy of the personal contact based on their relative positions in the hierarchy of authority.
It seems to me that this is a constant in a sort Russian consciousness. It has its good points and bad points. I try to understand it and not to judge too much. P.A. Stolypin, the last of Nicholas II’s more far seeing Prime Ministers (1906-1911), once said that Russia needed twenty years of stability to iron out an increasingly dangerous internal situation. He was, I think grossly underestimating the time necessary, but he didn’t even have twenty years. I think this is the position in which the current President of the Russian Federation and the Russian policy elite find themselves.
I would suggest that Russia is better thought of as a land power. US grand strategy from WWII is to use maritime power to avoid competing directly with land powers, following the way of the UK.
I am not interested in running a salon for idle chatter so it matters to me if you have any “skin in the game.” Have you ever put your ass on the line for the United States or have you just talked about things like this in college bull sessions?
“I consider the latter treasonous.” You need to brush up on the concept of treason in American constitutional tradition. And if you ever say or imply anything like that about me or anyone here you will be permanently gone from here. “regardless of whether I like him or agree with him” Or agree with him. I doubt that you are an American. Supporting policy that you think is wrong is the antithesis of American tradition.
To return to the matter immediately at hand, you believe that there could be a conventional engagement in Ukraine between NATO forces and those of Russia without an escalation to nuclear weapons? If you do believe that I have to tell you that all planning in the Cold War contingency of a Soviet offensive into Germany expected that if one side seemed likely to be defeated such an escalation was all but inevitable. pl
Obama made his remarks in response to a question from John Karl of ABC. Karl asked (it was a long multi-part question) if Mitt Romney had a point when said that Russia was our greatest geopolitical foe, and if not Russia, who?
Below, is the link to Mr. Karl’s question, and the President’s response. Perhaps the context is important, perhaps not.
There is always a risk of China losing Taiwan to independence, and that risk increases once China’s economic growth slows and it begins a decline.
But I don’t see evidence that China thinks it is in decline (it might worry about the possibility, but is actually working to avoid the problem). So I imagine it is pretty calm about Taiwan at the present.
Not like Russia. Russia hears the wolves braying.
Sometimes I think that people equate the term “nuclear weapon” only with a huge city-leveling strategic bomb delivered by a bomber or missile and they cannot conceive of how Putin or Obama could press the Button. They forget about the tactical uses of nuclear weapons in projectiles and mines where the escalation would probably begin and the temptation for use would be great in an adverse battle situation.
Save us from the fools. http://washingtonexaminer.com/ted-cruz-the-russians-are-openly-laughing-at-obama/article/2546343
“,,, if one side seemed likely to be defeated such an escalation was all but inevitable ” . This is the part that is most disturbing to me regarding the BHO statement of ‘Russia as a regional power “, that the this current crop of policy makers seemed to have forgotten the MAD doctrine . Russia clearly is not a regional power- if Russia can still destroy CONUS in a nuclear exchange. When I think how I might think if I were Russian – how we reneged on the promise to Gorbachev not to move NATO east , how we seem intent on building an ABM system in Eastern Europe that could very well give cover to a first strike by the West – I would not be happy about being viewed as a regional power . I tried doing the Google earlier on the ABM system in Poland – did the US not also renege on including Russia in on the deployment of that ABM system ? Does anyone know ? I was willing to give BHO the benefit of the doubt regarding continuing the failed policies of the neocon /Jacobins – but it sure looks like we are still saddled with ‘strategerry ” regarding Russia and the its Near Abroad
“spiritual homicide” – that is certainly happening in our society.
You have our president’s back? Hurray! Hit like on Facebook and re-tweet that post. Your obligation to the Republic is over.
Opposition to the political decisions of an elected executive you consider treasonous? How wonderful it is to be amongst the morally superior who knows what is best for everyone in America.
I see from the linked article that Obama made this speech at the Nuclear Security Summit. It is good to see that Obama, man of principled leadership, has increased the world’s security so much that he is only worried about a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan. Who’s nuclear weapon might that be? Have any other of the world’s nuclear powers signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons due to his leadership?
Israel – no, India – no, Pakistan-no, Korea -no.
Perhaps Mr. Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood allies – the ones recently listed as terrorists by Saudi Arabia – have some fellow travelers in Pakistan? Surely Obama’s leadership is making the latter a much better ally of the US, all those drone bombings notwithstanding. His impact on defusing tensions on the Korean peninsula are plain to even the most casual of observers. Why even India feels so much closer to the US; especially given the courteous treatment of their Ambassadors. I’m sure all the Democratic women in the Senate are proud of those achievements in ending the “war on women”. Everyone knows how Israel feels – they tried coercing the US into attacking Iran and Syria.
Some leadership. Perhaps the Dutch Prime Minister feels happy with those non-accomplishments. I don’t. I feel even worse that I voted for the guy twice.
Or at least a multiregional continental power.
Russia is not a thalassocracy. It is mainly a land based power.
The U.S. has historically been a sea based power. And in the modern age, an Air Power.
I think it’s far more likely that the Ukrainian adventure may prompt the NED to move on Taiwan.
Note the recent protests and occupation of the legislature, here: classic IRI tactics.
fred et al
I would bet that this guy is an immigrant from some east European sink hole. he does not understand anything about American law and government and thinks the president is sovereign. I think I know who he is. pl
John Mearsheimer is the guy who along with Stephen Walt blew the whistle on “The Israeli Lobby.” He’s the proponent of the doctrine of Offensive Realism as oposed to Walt’s Defensive Realism. Mearsheimer has always fascinated me, he enlisted in the US Army at age 17, got an appointment to West Point, graduated, and then served his five years in the Air Force. Huh- how’s all of that possible.
The Crimea and Ukraine according to Offensive Realism:
Col Lang and all,
I caught Cokie Roberts and Dan Senor on Morning Joe today as I was flipping around.
I think that the “posturing fool” disease is pretty wide spread. Here is the link if you want to raise your blood pressure.
I ended up throwing stuff at the TV. Maybe I should cut back on the coffee. Sigh…
I think it is important to realise that Crimea is a special case. It is dangerous to read too much into its annexation as a sign of Putin’s intentions and future behaviour.
Even Gorbachev and many of Putin’s political opponents have welcomed this move of his.
Bear baiting is by some, great sport. But it is essentially foolish, if not dangerous. To wit:
“Bear baiting in ancient Russia was a duel between a bear and a lightly armed person wielding either a mace or a belt knife. A bear would be teased, and then released into a partitioned-off area with the person, and the two would fight for a set amount of time. If the bear did not tear him to pieces, the onlookers would throw him a spear, and he would then try to stab the animal in the throat.”
So tell me. Why bait the Russian Bear?
The Nuclear Security Summit is the third one and one more scheduled in 2016! The President’s initiative. What is seldom stated on the record is that the conference and effort is to encourage those states with fissile material to return it to the US which had distributed in the first place.
*heh* Bravo, Obama…! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVFrdWIs2LI&feature=player_detailpage
Nixon had supporters to the bitter end. So will Obama.
The difference is that Nixon left major achievements for all his major flaws (and some would say threats to the Consitutional order). Obama may well pose all the same threats, with virtually none of the major achievements. Much of what he has done will be seen to have been “major decomplishments” in the words of John Stewart. And Nixon never lied for the pure sadistic fun of it.
If my President turns out to be a monkey playing with a hand grenade, should I have my President’s back?
You may wonder, cause I’m causually accused of Anti-American sentiments, but:
I think Putin is quite fine with Obama saying Russia is a regional power.
If Putin could have an open wish for a statement from Obama, I’m sure, he would have wished Obama would say, Russia is a regional power.
“I’m an American who will get my President’s back, regardless of whether I like him or agree with him.”
Out of such attitutes arise dictatorships.
The ease with which a confrontation between to nuclear powers can escalate to a strategic exchange of MIRV ballistic missiles carrying 3 to 10 hydrogen bombs each has been glossed over during the ongoing Ukraine Crisis. Western media has devolved into 24/7 propaganda. There has been no attempt to defuse the crisis. Indeed, it is escalating. Probably, because Washington DC cannot admit that it made a mistake in making the grab for Ukraine. For some ungodly reason, NATO’s expansion and Chevron’s fracking Ukraine’s shale gas is worth risking Armageddon.
Unlike the defeats that began with 1861 shelling of Fort Sumter, 1914 Invasion of Belgium, or Barbarossa in 1941, a 21st century Ukraine War can destroy the Northern Hemisphere and make it uninhabitable.
I just don’t understand taking this huge risk for a little more wealth and power. It has to be a combination of ignorance, greed, denial, and ideology in the second decade of the Western Elite being unleashed from any rules and regulations.
An elder German statesman, ex-Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, has a few choice words about the Crimea situation.
A world of differences between him and President Obama.
“…Helmut Schmidt said that he thinks that the Russian approach is “quite understandable”. Sanctions are in his opinion “rubbish”. The situation in the Ukraine may be dangerous – but he puts the blame for that on the West.
Further sanctions, he said, would miss the target, they would have only symbolic character, but could harm and hit the West as much as they would hit Russia.
Helmut Schmidt’s comments now strengthen those in the German public debate, who lobby for “Understanding for Moscow”. Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder had argued similarly, but I would say that Helmut Schmidt’s words might be taken more seriously at least among the elderly generation of Germans.
Helmut Schmidt also criticized the decision of the West to not cooperate with Russia under the G8 framework. He said it would be “ideal to sit down together”. It would be more becoming to peace than the threats of sanctions would be. He added that the G8 is in fact not as important as the G20. Russia has not been (so far) shown the door out of the G20.”
“No more grandstanding on the periphery” Putin may be grandstanding, but it is we who reside on the periphery,
“Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland;
who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island;
who rules the World-Island controls the world.”
(Mackinder, Democratic Ideals and Reality, p. 194)
my bad- the exponent of defensive realism is Kenneth Waltz. Stephen Walt is the co-author of the Lobby book. Both men (Mearsheimer and Walt) have become a constant target of the “Lobby.” Mearsheimer thinks that Ukraine should have kept its nukes. Wonder if he knows they could never crack the security codes?
A lot to think about in your fascinating response. I agree with a lot of it, but want to disagree with part of what you say.
It seems to me that Putin is addressing multiple audiences, and that the reasons for this are illuminated by the passage from Berdyaev I quoted. Actually, I do not think that this passage expresses a ‘somewhat rosy view of the era of serfdom’. What Berdyaev was pointing to was the fundamental religious egalitarianism of Christianity – the vision of all men as made ‘in the image and likeness of God.’ All he was saying was that this conception had set some small limits on power in traditional Russia, which were no longer present.
His remarks also however lead one on to much broader issues. In the traditional social teaching of the Christian Church, the egalitarianism to which Berdyaev referred was seen as belonging solely in the religious sphere – as a result of the Fall, hierarchy was necessary in the secular sphere, to prevent a kind of catastrophic eruption of what Christians have traditionally called ‘licence’.
Modern Western ‘individualism’ is the product of a long process, by which this religious egalitarianism has emerged into the secular sphere. In an essay on ‘Fascism and Nazism’ published in 1940, the British philosopher-historian R.G. Collingwood argued that the ‘the real ground for the ‘liberal’ or ‘democratic’ devotion to freedom was religious love of a God who set an absolute value on every human being.’ As regards the early history of ‘individualism’, this is probably true. It is also true that the resulting dreams of emancipation often took millenarian forms.
What Berdyaev was confronting was a situation where the millenarian undercurrents always present in Christian civilisation – and particularly strong in Russian Christianity – had become secularised and turned on their Christian origins. The result could very well be seen as a kind of combination of a catastrophic release of ‘licence’ and a secular utopianism underpinned by a complete lack of any genuine sense that individual human beings had any value.
Moreover, as Berdyaev like many others pointed out, the Soviet system was in large measure a transformation of traditional features of Russian culture – with nationalism lurking behind a veneer of universalism, and the universalist doctrine of Marxism-Leninism itself become a transformation of Orthodox messianism. Many others have seen both nationalism and the universalist doctrine as having become a mask for the will to power – the ‘licence’, on might say – of the country’s rulers.
As he made clear in a 1934 essay entitled ‘Polytheism and Nationalism’, it is worth adding, Berdyaev, while ‘admitting and affirming of the positive value of nationality,’ was fundamentally opposed to nationalism.
(See http://www.berdyaev.com/berdiaev/berd_lib/1934_391.html )
As regards Putin, he is actually a passionate opponent of Russian ethnic nationalism and nationalist millenarianism. His conception of Russian identity, as set up in his pre-election article on ‘The Ethnicity Issue’ is as a ‘poly-ethnic civilization bound by the Russian cultural core.’ And he is absolutely explicit about the Christian roots both in the need to recognise and value cultural difference, and also the absolute imperative of repudiating ethnic Russian nationalism and millenarianism.
Having noted that ‘the development of enormous territories that filled the entire history of Russia was the joint work of many peoples’, and specifically cited Ukrainians, Tartars, Jews and Belarussians, Putin writes that:
‘In one of the earliest Russian philosophical and religious works, Sermon on Law and Grace, the very theory of a “chosen people” is rejected and the idea of equality before God is preached.’
(See http://www.russkiymir.ru/russkiymir/en/publications/articles/article0235.html )
Likewise, Putin has time and again gone out of his way to praise the civilising influences of Islam, Buddhism and Judaism, as well as Orthodox Christianity.
Precisely the same framework of ideas underpins Putin’s response in his NYT op-ed to Obama’s assertion of American ‘exceptionalism’, as is evident from the conclusion of his article:
‘It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.’
(See http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/12/opinion/putin-plea-for-caution-from-russia-on-syria.html?_r=0 )
As I have stressed, it would be foolish simply to take what Putin says at face value. That said, one will not make any sense of Putin, unless one takes into account the impact on his thinking of figures in the Russian emigration who tried to look for a way out of the dead end into which the 1917 Revolution took Russia on his thinking, alike about Russia and the contemporary West.
As regards the West, part of the message he is trying to get across may I think be that large sections of modern Western elites have become oddly ‘Bolshevik’, in a way which makes them a danger both to other peoples and their own.
This is a view which seems to me substantially true. And in that sense, I think American and British leaders are imprisoned in their own ‘myth’, in a way Russian leaders no longer are.
Col: I made the mistake of watching one of her programs this week. Her panegyrics to President Obama are embarrassing. Mikoyan was less effusive at Stalin’s 70th birthday party.
The best I can say is Obama is doing competent crisis management for a crisis he negligently created. Hardly a four-star endorsement. Hence, my Maddow comment.
Fred: Never feel bad. Remember, the alternative was McCain and then Mitt (“let me get Bibi on the phone”) Romney.
I do remember the lack of alternatives. My feeling is more of disgust with the state of Democratic party leadership and rank and file members refusal to demand accountability of its own members. Now I understand what Reagan meant when asked about his having once been a democrat, responding that his party had left him.
@ FB Ali
You are right. That’ what I have been saying.
Ukraine w/ Crimea being in NATO does not bode well with Russia as far as the Black Sea is concerned.
I don’t believe that Putin cares whether Ukraine is part of the EU or not ( I guess it would be good riddance as far as economics are concerned and let it be another Greece to the EU taxpayers). Yanukovich was willing to make a deal with the EU back in 2012 ( no sneeze from Putin) BUT the EU , influenced by the white shirt, self-proclaimed French philosopher BHL ( yep the same one for the FSA) stipulated the release of Yulia Tomishenko before any agreement is signed.
Well now we are witnessing the exploits of the intelligentsia!!!
I think Putin once explicitly stated that he admired Stolypin the most.
The question of nuclear security cannot be divorced – in my opinion – from non-nuclear security.
Mr. Obama has not contributed to world security in a positive manner when it comes to non-nuclear wars – go no further than what is transpiring in Syria.
I think US is also making a bigger deal out of it than it is to make herself look like the indispensable country to the Europeans.
Then Europeans might listen to US more if they are constantly reminded that there is bad bad Russia out there, ready to pounce – and without US the Cossacks would be in Champs d’Elysee drinking eau de cologne in lieu of vodka and molesting French women.
Have you read his book: “Men and Powers”?
Quite interesting memoirs.
I agree with you that damaging the G8 forum is a step in the wrong directions.
G7, G8, G20, and the SCO all have been ad-hoc attempts, in my opinion, to address the new world order that has emerged since the collapse of Communism and the End of Cold War.
[UN Is basically defunct – de facto.]
To avoid local as well as generalized and global wars we need more such fora and not less.
I am not arguing for any specific one: SCO, or G20 but rather the conception behind them – a concert of powers to maintain local and global peace.
For example, in sub-Saharan Africa you would want to have both South Africa and Nigeria to be representatives into such a global concert of powers, in South America Brazil and Argentina and Chile perhaps and so on and so forth.
My sense of it, however, is that major powers are not interested in such arrangements since it would put constraints on their freedom of action (to pursue hare-brained schemes).
Poul: Schmidt isn’t interested in sacrificing Germany for the Hondurus-on-the-Dnieper.
Ky, please tell me what NATO country, US included, would be worth ending the world over? Invasions, and occupations, painful and as terrible as they can be, pass and end. Life goes on. You strike me as insane in your offering ANY justification for the unjustifiable. With that kid of support I suggest the pres watch his back.
I see the foretold help to Mr. Putin in his quest versus the idiots in Ukraine has shown up. IMF has deemed it necessary to devote large sums to Ukraine to help her pay her bills to Gazprom on one hand, and to cut the living standards of Ukrainians on the other hand.
Now Mr. Putin can rest and have his discussions with Siemens and other large corporations form Europe while Mr. Obama frets about further sanctions, NATO build up and other hegemonic WET dreams
All: My doctor is concerned about my blood pressure so I do not watch MSNBC, or FOX or listen to NPR. I do read transcripts. It helps.
Inverting the idiocy where Obama justified the “goodness” of the Iraq war compared to the “badness” of Crimea, he clearly is recommending that Russia invade and bomb Ukraine, kill a few hundred thousand, “terrorists” – oops “Nazis”, install a puppet government and withdraw with a promise to be back if in the next election the wrong leader is chosen. Clearly in US interests (sarcasm alert).
1. Brain-mouth disconnect?
2. Excessive narcissim and hubris?
3. Short-term (lame-duck) political posturing?
I vote 2.
For the record, I believe that Iraq was worse than bad, it was a mistake. I do not see Crimea as a mistake.
“You can learn enough philosophy in college to ruin the rest of your life.”
Hey Babak, Creation is too bizarrely serendipitous! I just last week finished a quest for some McVitie’s that overtook me from out of nowhere and now here you and they are. But I take your point.
As an aside lett us all recall just how much Russian lolly – government, expat and mafia – The City enjoys. I recall listening to John Le Carre/David Cornwall being interviewed by Eleanor Wachtel in a New York Prize winning radio docu explain how the tremendous officially sanctioned influx of forgiven repatriated criminal cash was part of official government response to the 2009 collapse.
Dissembling to the we-must-attack-now-before-the-golum-eats-us crowd?
Across the strait is not quite the same op as a referendum where you already have troops, bases, popular support and the putative opponent has no military to speak of.
Its been announced the other day that that noted terrorist haven Japan has/will turn over about 300+ kgs.
You beat me to it, Matthew.
My analogy, seeing how chess is involved, is the EU/US tried a faulty combination against Putin thinking they would win a rook. Instead, they are down by a knight or a bishop due to Putin seeing the flaw.
I think you are right. Unless the EU/US really out does itself in stupidity Putin will stop where he is and saddle them with the bankrupt Ukraine. I wonder where these idiots believe all this money will come from to arm Ukraine while at the same time bail it out economically?
Putin has accomplished his strategic objectives.
“I just don’t see nuclear war manifesting. What would prompt it? A limited squabble in Ukraine where there are several thousand deaths on both sides isn’t going to spark a nuclear war.”
I wouldn’t take that bet, especially if it involved dead American servicemen and women in quantity.
or to put the distinction another way, Crimea is history, while Iraq was the putative CREATION of history.
History seems to be pounding Creationists.
The Daily Show send-up of the Morning Joe crew on the night of March 26th was a lot of fun. Check it out.
I have a hunch the Euro’s would like the US and Russia to engage in a NG price war with them in the middle. This appares, as yet, to be a muddled goal, a seeking of a use for this “crisis” by the looks of it. This is being abetted by the DoD spending crowd, who know that without an evil empire they are in a world of tight budgets. The armed services committee weighted in today with some very frightening rhetoric.
Yes, there has been a considerable revival of interest among Russian historians in Stolypin and his policies, especially the agrarian reforms. It’s no accident. He and his initiatives, of course, were vilified by Soviet historians.
Interesting. I read Putin’s model was Peter the Great. Both men have in common were they were reformers. Too bad they left the historical scene when they did.
Speaking of Stolypin, Solzhenitsyn wrote the prisoner rail cars of Stolypin’s period were called “Stolypin cars”. Solzhenitsyn noted it would have been more appropriate to call them “Stalin cars”.
After a string of abject failures, Obama and his crack team of NeoCon/R2P Commandos are now dicing with the devil, encouraging the Turks to engineer a false flag event against Turkey from within Syria. This could potentially provide a pretext for invoking NATO treaty obligations on “mutual defense” against attack. Nope, no possible chance that THAT would ratchet up to a nuclear exchange. Must be some o’ that 11-dimensional chess for which your boy is so justly famed.
More broadly considered, what a sheer piece of genius to have expanded NATO into Eastern Europe so that these treaty obligations can be gamed by crackpots like Sakashvilii (praise God that Georgia is not in NATO…yet), and corrupt politicians on the ropes like Erdogan to act as force multipliers for their dim-witted schemes. As in 1914, these pernicious “entangling alliances” could precipitate the world into the abyss. I gotta say, your smugness about that not being likely seems ill-considered to me.
Putin as the anti-Jacobin. How ironic.
As another poster noted, Russia is smack dab in the middle of MacKinder’s World Island. And as kao_hsien-chih observes in his comment, this of necessity means that their national interests are very complex and diversified. And following scott.s, in the past, a land power, although with the advent of significant force projection via air power and now ballistic missiles, the long-axiomatic logic of land vs. maritime power no longer holds the field unchallenged.
As a sidelight to your comment, I would like to kick in thinking from the scholar of religion, Mircea Eliade, to which I was exposed these long years ago at college. His contention was that a distinguishing characteristic of the mainstream of Western religiosity was its assumption that history was a working out of a salvific process. He felt that this had its origins in Zoroastrian thought, and was absorbed into Jewish religious thought, and communicated onward into Christianity and Islam. There is felt to be an end of days toward which history flows, and man interacts with the divine in this field of action. This is certainly worked out in extremely different ways in each of these religious traditions, but there is a sense that time and history have reality and importance. He observed that in Marxism, while there is no longer a divine presence behind history, there is still a millenarian underpinning, a legacy of that fundamental worldview.
In the words of the German-American patriot:
Our country, right or wrong. When right, to be kept right; when wrong, to be put right.
Significantly enough, Mr. Schurz was involved in the anti-imperialist movement at the time of the Spanish-American war.
Thank you for the passage of poetry from Matthew Arnold. Very apt.
This tape reveals Turkish government engagement in planning intervention in Syria with Obama Administration collusion. pl
So Americans were at a meeting of the Turkish General Staff distributing No Fly Zone plans? Just why is the Obama administration supporting a jihadist movement in Syria? How is that in America’s national interest?
I can agree with Ambassador Sinirlioglu comments – “National security has been politicized. The discourse over our … national security have been turned into a trite affair of internal politics.”
Of course Turkey’s strategy seems to echo ours: “If you mean creating a pretext to compensate for a lack of strategy….” (Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmet Davutoğlu)
That seems to sum of Obama’s Mid-East strategy – create pretexts….. A very sad state of affairs for all of us.
Vooshtic – Military men don’t squabble each other son. This is not a place you can wear your ignorance like a badge you feel you have earnt. Watch and listen. Try to learn.