America’s Ukraine-Policy Disaster | The National Interest

From James W. Carden:

….A second unintended consequence of our involvement with Ukraine is the emergence of Russian hypernationalism. Little attention seems to be given to the effects that our facilitating an anti-Russian regime in Kiev has had on the political landscape in Russia; Russians now, more so than at any other point in the last quarter century, are under the spell of one man. According to the widely respected Levada Center, Vladimir Putin’s approval ratings stand at 80 percent. While respected analysts like the Carnegie Endowment’s Lilia Shevtsova seem to believe that this level of support is unsustainable, the numbers may point to a new and troubling phenomenon: that a rather prosaic Russian nationalism is in the process of transmogrifying into Russian hypernationalism. If this is so, a war in East-Central Europe becomes all the more likely, because as the University of Chicago’s John J. Mearsheimer has noted, “hypernationalism …is the belief that other nations are not just inferior, but dangerous as well, and must be dealt with harshly, if not brutally…[it] creates powerful incentives to use violence to eliminate the threat.”

Read more at America's Ukraine-Policy Disaster | The National Interest.

8 thoughts on “America’s Ukraine-Policy Disaster | The National Interest

  1. John Murray says:

    Democratic surge form the west? A survey here just found that young people think economic performance is more important than democracy. According to western economic theory for economic success a country must be democratic and have a growing population. China? Go figure. Sorry westerners have blinkers on. And as far as invading other countries and killing in millions, think Vietnam, Iraq, how about a bit of empathy. We behave like spoiled brats when we are offended and our foreign policy is whimsical and based on doing it because we can.

    • ColinTwiggs says:

      “A survey here just found that young people think economic performance is more important than democracy.”
      I would agree, but how do you achieve sustainable economic performance? A stable legal system and low impediments to innovation are essential. A free society helps to achieve both of these. If you were advising Ukrainians, Syrians, Egyptians, Iraqis, Libyans or Tunisians how to structure their political system and their economy, who would you use as an example? China or Switzerland?

  2. peteybee says:

    Oh and I should add something so obvious that I forgot. West Ukraine is also experiencing hyper-nationalism. The martyrs of Maidan were their call to patriotic action, and the result followed the standard pattern — highly motivated but careless efforts at transforming the world around them, and severely pissing off the “others” who they have to share their space with.

  3. peteybee says:

    The hyper-nationalism among the population in all countries had the same cause – you tell your people loudly and repeatedly that “we are being attacked, we’re losing, and the other guy isn’t playing fair”. I don’t think this formula has changed since its discovery God knows how long ago.

    It just so happens that the message is a lot more convincing if there is some actual violence — i.e. 9/11, or when the Chechens bombed Moscow, or for the jihadis, when the US invaded Iraq, or for the Russians, again now, when the US openly supported the Ukraine government which is democratically surging artillery shells at Russian-Ukranian civilians on TV, while Kerry smiles to the camera and praises the Ukranian government.

  4. peteybee says:

    Here is a simple way to understand it. Youtube videos of atrocities attributed to the Ukranians in the Russian media are being marketed to the Russian public a lot like 9/11 was marketed to the American public. The result is full faith in the government and a desire for payback.

    In the US, the post-9/11 patriotic momentum lasted a good 5 years or so, I am expecting a similar period of time for Russia. On the flip side, in the US the actual consequences of the post-9/11 patriotic momentum were generally a complete disaster. Russia may experience similar national stupidity.

    • ColinTwiggs says:

      “hypernationalism …is the belief that other nations are not just inferior, but dangerous as well, and must be dealt with harshly, if not brutally…[it] creates powerful incentives to use violence to eliminate the threat.”

      Were subsequent US actions a response to 9/11?

      • peteybee says:

        you mean, do I think US actions after 9/11 were a response to 9/11? Or that the US became hypernationalist?

        Whether US actions after 9/11 were a response TO 9/11 is kind-of a good question, probably a mix of yes and no. But what I was trying to get at, was that the post 9/11 atmosphere of intense patriotism, provided our foreign policy establishment, with a sort-of blank check, to do with as they pleased, with much less debate and dissenting opinion than would normally be the case. Coincidentally, the NeoConservatives hard work selling their ideas to Washington were beginning to pay off, and our foreign policy establishment absorbed some of those ideas and was willing to “experiment” a little. The results are still unfolding today.

        Do I think the US became hypernationalist in the sense of believing other nations were not just inferior but dangerous as well? Yes very much so. It was all over the TV — “kill the Arabs”, “get them for 9/11”, etc. I clearly remember that our mass media encouraged openly racist jingoism, on the popular right-wing side, and gave a sort-of meek half-protest, half-consent from the left-wing side. This level of intensity didn’t last very long, maybe a 2 years???, but that was just long enough to get our course of action going to the point where it was difficult to reverse it without having to say that it was a mistake in the first place, and I guess noone wanted to do that.

        The difference in Russia is that they do not have the level of global power that the US had in 2003 and still has today, so they can’t be dreaming of, for example, pulling off regime change in Canada or Mexico. So the things they can do with their freshly aroused national energy are much more limited. But eastern Ukraine is within their reach, and as far as people who consider their identity Russian are concerned, (this includes much of the population in the rebel-controlled areas), they have the moral high ground. It may not be what West Ukraine thinks, it may not be what a lot of people in the US think, but there are a lot of people, especially on the ground right where it counts, who do take the Russian point of view.

        And, I think for the next couple of years it’s going to be really easy for the Russian state to find people willing to make sacrifices for their country. What they do with it that resource, I don’t know. The US certainly isn’t the only country who has a history of being overconfident.

      • ColinTwiggs says:

        So 9/11 caused the US to become hyper-nationalist, but what has caused Russia to become so? Not just dreams of lost empire surely — otherwise we had better watch the Greeks, Italians, Spanish, French, British, Germans… even the Belgians. It seems China and Russia are playing a dangerous game — fueling nationalism as a counter to the democratic surge from the West.

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