“Spengler” aka David P. Goldman.
On PJMedia, “Spengler” gravely strokes his chin, compares today to August 1914, and equates Putin’s yearning for a cordon sanitaire of Russian satellites and puppet states to the Cuban Missile Criss of 1962.
Vladimir Putin acted wickedly, and illegally, by invading Ukraine, but also rationally: Russia has an existential interest in keeping NATO away from his border. Russia will no more tolerate American missiles in Kyiv than the United States would tolerate Russian missiles in Cuba.
The United States could have averted a crisis by adhering to the Minsk II framework of local rule for the Russophone provinces of Eastern Ukraine within a sovereign Ukrainian state but chose instead to keep open Ukraine’s option to join NATO. That was rational, but also stupid: It backed Putin into a corner.
There is no excuse for Putin’s action, but there is an explanation that’s similar to one that applied to his forbears of 1914: Putin chose to attack before the West had the opportunity to arm Ukraine with sophisticated weapons that would raise the future cost of military action.
Well, I don’t think everybody in 1914 was equally “rational,” or equally responsible. Russia seems to me more responsible by far than average for trouble-making in the Balkans, instigating Serbian Nationalism, and then stepping in as Serbia’s protector (its self-appointed role as defender of the Eastern Orthodox) when a Nationalist fanatic murdered the Austrian Grand Duke.
I’d say Britain was responsible, too, for enormous damage to herself, by rushing to the defense of plucky little Belgium on the basis of an antiquated, widely forgotten 19th Century treaty and a heap of Jingoism.
As to the supposed equivalence of Soviet missiles in Cuba in 1962 and Ukraine joining NATO in 2022, there are enormous differences. The Soviet Union in 1962 was an ambitious, aggressor power who explicitly promised “to bury” the United States.
NATO, in 2022 pre-the Russian-Invasion-of-Ukraine, was a decidedly decadent and complacent defensive alliance, whose wealthy Western European members begrudged spending the 2% on GDP promised by treaty on defense, who were perfectly willing to depend for energy requirements on Russia, and all of whose members had absolutely zero claims on Russian territory or ambitions to attack Russia.
Vladimir Putin’s rational causus belli, according to “Spengler,” was potential missiles in Ukraine some fine day, but any such future missiles, assuming Ukraine was ever permitted to join NATO and assuming America kept electing hawkish Republican presidents with the cojones to defend Central Europe, those missiles would be purely defensive missiles.
NATO-member missile-equipped Ukraine would not, in Putin’s phrase, be “holding a knife to Russia’s throat.” That Ukraine would merely possess a credible deterrent.
All rational Russia was standing to lose was the opportunity unprovokedly to invade, occupy, shell, bomb, ravage, and annex a sovereign neighboring state without a shred of legitimacy.
Russia’s real position is that of the violent criminal who claims self defense in the course of gunning down an unarmed law abiding citizen, because, he says, he was afraid that in the future his victim might arm himself.