One of the silver linings of Vladimir Putin’s very big dark cloud invasion of Ukraine is the clarity it offers. This is broadly a competition between good and bad.
Many people who consider themselves foreign policy realists roll their eyes when they speak of “good guys” vs. “bad guys.” The world is made up of nation-states with interests, and these states act rationally according to their interests. Good and bad has nothing to do with it.
I have never bought this argument, either analytically or morally.
Yes, nations have interests, but the way they define their interests is not always strictly rational. History is full of examples of nations tie up enormous resources to causes that are extra-rational. “The fault of the ‘realists’ is not their interest in the struggle for power, but their conscious neglect of everything else, especially the non-scientific, contingent, very human feelings and beliefs that move people most,” said the late , great Donald Kagan wrote in “Honour Among Nations: Intangible Interests and Foreign Policy”.
To say that, let’s say North Korea Foreign and domestic policy is simply an expression of his rational self-interest to declare that you know nothing about North Korea – or the decisions its rulers made to turn that society into a xenophobic gulag.
Realists tend to conflate the interests of the rulers with the interests of the ruled. It’s hard to find a sane analyst who would argue like that Putin invaded Ukraine alone in the name of Russia’s rational self-interest rather than its own notions of glory and historical retribution, and it’s even harder to find anyone who believes the invasion is objectively in the interests of the Russian people.
Again, however you define it, it would have been in everyone’s interest if Putin hadn’t committed This monstrous crime His choice makes it easy to label him and his supporters as the bad guys. Deliberately Target civilians, the sanctioning of mass executions and rapes, let alone the deliberate mass wiping of cities, is objectively evil. The Russian state tacitly admits this when it refuses to tell its own people what it is doing.
In fact, the scale of Russian lies is so great that the liars are beginning to say the silent part out loud: that truth and divination is an unacceptable threat to the Russian regime.
Margarita Simonyan, the manager RT (formerly Russia Today), which once claimed to be a legitimate news organization recently declared that “no great nation can exist without control over information” and that Russia should follow the Soviets or contemporary chinese model, which would deny people freedom in “the political life of their country, in the information life of the country”. Given media voices like Simonyan, it’s no wonder Putin is said to be doing well in Russia.
For the United States there is the same clarity. I think the realistic case is to do whatever it takes to insure a The Russian defeat is obvious. It is Russian policy to undermine our interests and the interests of our allies around the world.
But there is a deeper moral realism. In the 1990s, we pushed Ukraine to give up its nuclear weapons in exchange for security guarantees. In 2005, a bipartisan effort led by Sens. Dick Lugar and Barack Obama led Ukraine to destroy large quantities of its conventional weapons in the belief that these security guarantees would be met. In other words, we told them we would stand behind them.
Putin said those guarantees — signed by Russia — are null and void because Ukraine’s Euromaidan protests in 2013 ushered in a new Ukrainian state. Whether or not you buy this junk doesn’t matter; Putin’s betrayal of his commitments does not relieve us of ours. And it is in our interest to be seen as a nation that lives up to its obligations, both morally and legally.
None of this is to say that we should send our own troops to Ukraine – not that we are not morally justified. Starting a direct war between two nuclear superpowers is a bad idea. Besides, Ukraine doesn’t demand it. They want the modern equivalent of democracy’s arsenal, and we should give it to them quickly. Because Putin is now doubling about his crimes in eastern Ukraine just to save face. It’s not in our interest for him to succeed. And as a villain, he deserves to lose.
https://nypost.com/2022/04/22/putins-war-proves-it-evil-thrives-unless-we-fight-it/ Evil thrives unless we fight it