2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine (Part 2)

Arrogant and power-worshipping pricks like Mearsheimer always think they’re smart enough to avoid getting Chotinered, until suddenly there they are getting Chotinered.

The funniest part about that excerpt is that Mearsheimer starts out the interview by taking a small opening to show how important he is by bragging about meeting Orban. Did he think a pitbull like Chotiner was going to leave it there?

His job as a so-called foreign policy realist is to twist himself into knots and dynamically shift goalposts to “prove” that it isn’t imperialism. For him, everything is a great-powers conflict. Somehow all of the twisted historical interpretation by Putin’s dancing bear is really an expression of Russia’s centuries-long anxiety about NATO, or the U.S., or … (yeah, that’s better) the West.

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If it helps, his background is that he went to West Point, and his entire career has been the history of war in the Middle East (from the viewpoint of the American military). He’s an academic – theory is king – but from a very different base than most academics.

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True. That base has left him prone to being a Useful Idiot for right-wing autocrats.

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I think the main problem is that a realist views idealism as akin to propaganda-- it makes rational, calculating decisions seem more palatable. Country A invaded country B not because it had a humanitarian interest, but because it wanted the oil.
Yet it is increasingly difficult to ascribe some of Russia’s actions to rational self interest. They’re high on their own propaganda supply.

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That’s compounded when the realist applies that view selectively, as Mearsheimer often does when he switches his focus from international relations to a nation-state’s internal politics. What he sees as a vice on the international stage becomes – in select cases – a virtue on the domestic one.

If his activities were limited to academia I could easily shrug this off. But Mearsheimer is also a public intellectual with a lot of influence on government and military policymakers and has the capacity to do a lot of damage.

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Someone pointed out that Mearsheimer’s brand of realism ignores public opinion as a factor that leaders (and analysts) must deal with. A realist view of the Russia-Ukraine war must take into account the desire of most Ukrainians to live in an independent democratic country outside the “Russian world” as well as their growing determination to recover all their sovereign territory.

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Mearsheimer only accords agency to those established players who have the capacity to exert the most brute force. On the global scale that means that only the U.S., China, and Russia make choices – every other country is a pawn.

You can see why a thug like Orban would find that view appealing when applied to his regime’s domestic monopoly on violence.

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Is there some sort of consistent metric for distinguishing between a agent-tier nation state and one of the higher end pawn states; or is great power status like obscenity in that you know it when you see it(as well as, arguably, in certain other respects)?

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All those words, distilled down to three “might makes right”.

The things people get paid for nowadays.

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How many nukes they have?

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To quote the legend:

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Hence, Qatar is not a country

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To be fair, it’s not clear that these realists care about right vs. wrong. They see amorality as a feature rather than a bug.

They’re all about “might”, though.

If there was, it would be the ability to throw around enough military or economic weight* to intimidate or (to one degree or another) colonise a higher-end pawn state.

[* Cultural weight, as important as it is, doesn’t count with the realists.]

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More of just a last ditch customer for beer, airplane, defense and sports companies.

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The sides are hitting each other using artillery and air strikes. Retired Gen. Urmas Roosimägi said that Russia is using few high-tech missiles because of their cost. A single Kalibr X missile costs $400,000, while Roosimägi does not believe Russia is about to run out of conventional munitions.

“I visited Moldova. There is a place in Transnistria called Kolbasnaya. They have a major army mobilization warehouse there. It takes 28,000 railcars to move its contents,” the retired general said.

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Transnistria is landlocked, so transporting stocks from Kolbasnaya would require going through Moldova or Ukraine.

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