2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine (Part 2)

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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Yeah, the experts may note that Russia still has a lot of shells and bullets*, but getting them to the guns on the front line? That takes skill Russia has been slow to learn. It may be a part of why retreating Russian BTG’s have been abandoning still-functional howitzers, because the local commanders feel they are worthless since no more ammo is arriving.

*On paper, mind. Don’t forget the Klept never let patriotism get in the way of earning a quick ruble.

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