Why Won’t Europe Defend Itself? — Peter Robinson

 

Back when the United States had no qualms about maintaining an enormous defense establishment, I could see why the Europeans wanted to let us do all the nasty work, maintaining only nominal defenses themselves. But now?  President Obama has devoted the last five years to reducing our commitments abroad, shrinking our armed forces, and making us, withal, much less reliable allies than we used to be.

The European response? To make their defense budgets even smaller.

From the Wall Street Journal:

The Obama theory of “collective security” is that as the U.S. retreats from its historic commitments in Europe and the Middle East, allies will step up to deter aggressors and protect Western interests. NATO budget cuts suggest otherwise.

The cuts have created “gaps in meeting core NATO tasks” and resulted in “forces that are not ready, not trained, and not sufficiently equipped,” according to a 2012 study by the U.S. National Defense University. In plain English, this means that if Vladimir Putin sets his sights on NATO’s eastern periphery—by targeting the Baltic states, for example—the alliance may not have the capability to resist even if it has the political will.

European powers in recent years have shelved entire divisions and weapons systems. The British Royal Navy doesn’t operate a proper aircraft carrier. The Netherlands in 2012 disbanded its heavy-armor division, and France and the U.K. each now field a mere 200 main battle tanks. France has cut its orders of Rafale combat jets to six a year from 11. This isn’t even a Maginot Line. 

Most alliance members are also dangerously demobilized: Germany last year announced plans to cut its troops to no more than 180,000 from 545,000 at the end of the Cold War. The French military has shrunk to 213,000 from 548,000 in 1990. The U.K. now has 174,000 armed forces, down from 308,000 in 1990.

It’s not just the “Obama theory” that’s in question here. Lots of people have supposed that, if the United States scaled back its commitments to Europe, then the Europeans would very naturally take on the defense of Europe themselves.

Way back during the late 1980s and 1990s, no less a figure than Irving Kristol suggested that NATO, at least as then constituted (with the United States as very much the senior partner), was close to having outlived its usefulness.  Immediately after the Second World War, Europe needed American protection. But by the late 1970s Europe had not only recovered but become, roughly, just as rich as we—and much, much richer than the Soviet Union. By continuing to permit the Europeans to free ride on our defense budget, Kristol argued, we were infantilizing them.  We should cut back, he insisted, forcing the Europeans to defend themselves—forcing them, that is, to grow up.

The argument made sense to me then—and still does. But in recent years we’ve effectively put it to the test—and instead of taking their own defense upon themselves the Europeans have become…still more infantile. Good Lord.   The United Kingdom—”Hail, Britannia!  Britannia, rule the waves!”—without a single working aircraft carrier.

I just don’t understand. Why should this be?

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  1. user_138400 Inactive
    user_138400
    @JoAnnRogers

    I blame John Lennon.  ” Imagine there’s no country…….”

    • #121
  2. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Manfred Arcane: MA: You just won’t concede the obvious. Putin could make any number of aggressive actions that would cross the boundary you set of: “deliberately destabilis[ing] the regimes that made them” 

    Or he might not.  

    The point is, being hysterical about Putin (he’s irrational, he’s unpredictable, he’s probably trying to reconstitute the Soviet Union) is as unrealistic as expecting him to exit the Caucasus leaving liberal democracies in his wake.

    I don’t know what Putin’s thinking – and I acknowledge that.  The fact is you don’t know what Putin is thinking either – we both only have his past and present behaviour on which to base our assessments  – but you seem not to realise that.  Perhaps I misunderstand you?

    • #122
  3. Manfred Arcane Inactive
    Manfred Arcane
    @ManfredArcane

    Zafar:

    Manfred Arcane: MA: You just won’t concede the obvious. Putin could make any number of aggressive actions that would cross the boundary you set of: “deliberately destabilis[ing] the regimes that made them”

    Or he might not.
    The point is, being hysterical about Putin (he’s irrational, he’s unpredictable, he’s probably trying to reconstitute the Soviet Union) is as unrealistic as expecting him to exit the Caucasus leaving liberal democracies in his wake.

     You always, in your comments on various threads, seems to find leaders of Iran, Hamas, and Russia to be carbon copies of ourselves, rational actors, etc..  While that hypothesis should always be entertained, it would be folly to wholly rely upon it.  The rest of us are not hysterical about Putin, just wary.  I don’t think you are being Pollyannish, but you could be a bit more wary, IMO.  If he thinks the fall of the USSR was the worst thing that happened in the last century, that is a datum regarding his past ‘behavior’ that has much relevance to the current circumstance.

    • #123
  4. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Manfred Arcane:

    You always, in your comments on various threads, seems to find leaders of Iran, Hamas, and Russia to be carbon copies of ourselves, rational actors, etc..  

    Because their actions, as far as I can tell, are rational wrt preserving their own power and authority.   It’s based on my assessment on what they have done.  Both my assessment (the rationale) and what they have done (the facts) can be  questioned.  

    If someone argues that Iran, Hamas etc. are irrational actors, surely they should provide the same sort of proof ? ‘They just might be’ is true, but so is ‘they just might not be’.  Why do you think they’re irrational?  What have they done that makes you think this? Share your facts and argument, not just conclusions.  Fair request?

    (Re nostalgia for the Soviet Union – no empire is entirely devoid of good points, especially for the dominant class or group.  Imperial nostalgia – from France to Britain to Turkey – is not rare, but it’s not a precursor to reconquest either.  Because the past can be safely botanised over without all the inconvenient negative facts up close : -)

    • #124
  5. Manfred Arcane Inactive
    Manfred Arcane
    @ManfredArcane

    Zafar:

    Manfred Arcane: You always, in your comments on various threads, seems to find leaders of Iran, Hamas, and Russia to be carbon copies of ourselves, rational actors, etc..

    Because their actions, as far as I can tell, are rational wrt preserving their own power and authority. It’s based on my assessment on what they have done. Both my assessment (the rationale) and what they have done (the facts) can be questioned. If someone argues that Iran, Hamas etc. are irrational actors, surely they should provide the same sort of proof ? ‘They just might be’ is true, but so is ‘they just might not be’. Why do you think they’re irrational? What have they done that makes you think this? Share your facts and argument, not just conclusions. Fair request? (Re nostalgia for the Soviet Union – no empire is entirely devoid of good points, especially for the dominant class or group. Imperial nostalgia – from France to Britain to Turkey – is not rare, but it’s not a precursor to reconquest either. Because the past can be safely botanised over without all the inconvenient negative facts up close : -)

     We are only saying that imputing rationality to them – according to our definition of that term- is optimistic.  Let’s leave it at that.

    • #125
  6. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    I don’t know about optimstic. It’s based on their past actions – ie facts, as understood by me.  Different facts?  Different argument?  Without these, I’m not sure what your case is based on.  Peace.

    • #126
  7. user_1184 Member
    user_1184
    @MarkWilson

    Zafar: If someone argues that Iran, Hamas etc. are irrational actors, surely they should provide the same sort of proof ? ‘They just might be’ is true, but so is ‘they just might not be’. Why do you think they’re irrational? What have they done that makes you think this? Share your facts and argument, not just conclusions. Fair request?

     They do things they view as rational, but we don’t.  Did you predict that Putin would invade Georgia and Crimea?  Do you think it was predictable that Hamas would launch further intifadas after the Oslo Accords?  Do you think it’s rational for Iran to continue to pursue a nuclear program?  What will they do next, if they are rational and predictable?

    • #127
  8. user_1184 Member
    user_1184
    @MarkWilson

    Zafar:
    I don’t know about optimstic. It’s based on their past actions – ie facts, as understood by me. Different facts? Different argument? Without these, I’m not sure what your case is based on. Peace.

     I think he means optimistic in the sense of incautious.  It leads to more rose predictions than other approaches which hedge against uncertainty.

    • #128
  9. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    A pretty interesting graphic from The Atlantic regarding the UN vote on the Ukraine.

    Not surprisingly, the red are (pretty much) all countries who are explicitly hostile to the United States.

    Of real note are the dark greys (abstentions), which includes all the BRICS countries that aren’t Russia, as well as Israel (an ally of the USA) and Iran (an ally of Russia).

    Source: http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/03/the-worlds-post-crimea-power-blocs-mapped/359835/

    • #129
  10. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Mark Wilson:

    Zafar: If someone argues that Iran, Hamas etc. are irrational actors, surely they should provide the same sort of proof ? 

    They do things they view as rational, but we don’t. Did you predict that Putin would invade Georgia and Crimea? Do you think it was predictable that Hamas would launch further intifadas after the Oslo Accords? Do you think it’s rational for Iran to continue to pursue a nuclear program? 

     
    What is irrational about Putin invading Georgia and Crimea?  He wants surrounding countries to be tied to Russia rather than the EU.  Georgia makes a break for it, but unfortunately has not one but two secessionist movements.  Russia helps the movements but also helps itself – by illustrating what happens when you try and leave the Russian sphere of influence.  A few years later a similar scenario plays out with Ukraine.  

    Ethnical? Arguably not.  But surprising? Why?

    Contd.

    • #130
  11. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Yes it was completely predictable that Hamas launch an intafada instead of acquiescing to deeply unpopular peace terms which in any case were extremely unlikely to be met.  Right now Fatah and the PA are tarred with the failure of Oslo, the accelerating number of settlements on the West Bank and the scent of collaboration – not Hamas.  Which organisation came out of that with more authority in Palestinian society?

    Re Iran and nuclear weapons – yes, again completely rational.  Compare and contrast how we deal with one crazy dictator (Gaddafy in Libya, without nuclear weapons) and another crazy dictator (the North Korean guy – with nuclear weapons).  It’s an unpleasant regime, but wrt maintaining its grip on power and safeguarding itself from regime change (like happened in Saddam Hussain’s Iraq, another country without nuclear weapons) I can’t see how developing nuclear weapons is an irrational move for the Islamic Republic’s rulers.  

    What am I missing?

    • #131
  12. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Mark Wilson:

    Zafar: If someone argues that Iran, Hamas etc. are irrational actors, surely they should provide the same sort of proof ?….

    They do things they view as rational, but we don’t. Did you predict that Putin would invade Georgia and Crimea? Do you think it was predictable that Hamas would launch further intifadas after the Oslo Accords? Do you think it’s rational for Iran to continue to pursue a nuclear program? What will they do next, if they are rational and predictable?

     I think that this is the central question that Zafar has difficulty with. If you assume that the Iranians are rational actors for whom the destruction of Israel is a rational goal, then Iranian actions and statements in support of their actions make sense. If you think that the Iranians are primarily interested  in the sorts of things we are interested in, then their willingness to batter their economy into its current shape in order to gain nuclear weapons and continue to support massive bloodshed (of Israelis, Iraqis, and Syrians), becomes a lot more confusing.

    • #132
  13. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Zafar:
    Re Iran and nuclear weapons – yes, again completely rational. Compare and contrast how we deal with one crazy dictator (Gaddafy in Libya, without nuclear weapons) and another crazy dictator (the North Korean guy – with nuclear weapons). It’s an unpleasant regime, but wrt maintaining its grip on power and safeguarding itself from regime change (like happened in Saddam Hussain’s Iraq, another country without nuclear weapons) I can’t see how developing nuclear weapons is an irrational move for the Islamic Republic’s rulers.
    What am I missing?

    The North Korean threat has been, for decades, the ability to level  Seoul with conventional arms, and the fact that China’s version of NATO has two members, one of them North Korea.

    Iran is not like North Korea, or even Libya. It’s a vastly more open, democratic, society. If Iran didn’t support terrorism on an unparalleled scale (since their sole rival, Saddam, left the business), there wouldn’t be a demand for regime change. It’s still not vulnerable to the sort of regime change seen in Iraq, and a light reduction in sanctions would put off the domestic insurrection found in Libya, but they do not seek that.

    • #133
  14. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    James Of England:

    If you assume that the Iranians are rational actors for whom the destruction of Israel is a rational goal, then Iranian actions and statements in support of their actions make sense. 

     If you resolutely ignore Iran’s history of regime change by the West – which last installed the Pahlavis in the place of a democratically elected leader in 1953? –  destroying Israel with an atomic bomb (would Iran even remotely have that capability, even after developing nuclear capacity of some sort) might be some sort of an explanation for Iran’s nuclear weapon focus.  But if you don’t ignore their history, regime change is a much more obvious motivator. Because it’s happened to them before, they aren’t just imagining it. And it happened to Iraq. And Libya.  But not to North Korea…

    jmho

    • #134
  15. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Zafar:

    James Of England:

    And it happened to Iraq. And Libya. But not to North Korea…
    jmho

    It happened to Iraq to a large extent because Iraq remained interested in WMD development. To take the lesson from Iraq that WMD development is a good idea is perverse. It didn’t happen in North Korea after they got nukes, but it didn’t happen in North Korea before they got nukes, either, despite stronger arguments for attacking the Norks in the 1990s.
    An Iraq style liberation is obviously impossible (where would they invade from?). Libya was just one of a number of successful domestic revolutions in the Middle East. It seems unlikely to me that the Iranians would have much use for nukes in the event of such a revolution; what would they do with it (other than firing up their base by killing Jews)?

    • #135
  16. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Zafar:
    If you resolutely ignore Iran’s history of regime change by the West – which last installed the Pahlavis in the place of a democratically elected leader in 1953? – destroying Israel with an atomic bomb (would Iran even remotely have that capability, even after developing nuclear capacity of some sort) might be some sort of an explanation for Iran’s nuclear weapon focus. But if you don’t ignore their history, regime change is a much more obvious motivator.

     The 1953 countercoup did not depose a democratic leader; Mossadegh ended the Iranian democracy when he dismissed the parliament and made himself absolute ruler.

    That aside, the US currently does the stuff it was doing in 1953 (they train and fund opposition movements).  You think that a nuke would stop the US from opposing the Iranian regime? Do you believe the US has ceased to oppose the Kims?

    Do you imagine that the Iranians would demand that the US ceased broadcasting radio signals on penalty of a nuclear attack? In what way would the nukes be valuable in your proposed scenario?

    • #136
  17. user_1184 Member
    user_1184
    @MarkWilson

    Zafar: What is irrational about Putin invading Georgia and Crimea?

     Again, you are missing my point.  I am not saying Putin is irrational.  I’m saying Putin has goals and values that we may not understand, and thus, if we apply our rational analysis to it, we may not be able to reliably predict his behavior.

    • #137
  18. Carey J. Inactive
    Carey J.
    @CareyJ

    Valiuth: … Of course the thing is one day I think they will find the need to rearm quickly, and I think they will manage to do it. As they say the burnt hand learns quickest. I think you will see Eastern Europe begin arming first.

    As Rudyard Kipling wrote:

    As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
    There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
    That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
    And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;
    And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
    When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
    As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
    The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

    I’m afraid I can’t share your optimism.

    • #138
  19. Carey J. Inactive
    Carey J.
    @CareyJ

    AIG:
    Several points might be overlooked here:
    1) Over the last 20 years weaponry has become exponentially more capable, and exponentially more expensive. Speaking purely of “men” under arm doesn’t capture the ability of these armies to engage in war. So there is no convincing argument as to why the Royal Navy of today isn’t…in fact…much stronger than it was in the 60s, 70s or 80s (in fact, I’d say it is. The “no aircraft carrier” meme is a myth. The first Queen Elizabeth class is close to being launched)
    2) The only potential adversary of European nations, Russia, has decreased it’s military capabilities FAR more than Europe. Russia today posses absolutely no capability to threaten Europe in a conventional sense. Just as a rough example, NATO’s European countries operate about 1,860 modern fighter/fighter-bomber aircraft among themselves. The entire Russian Air Force has about 1,100 fighter/fighter-bomber aircraft (many of which might not even be operational at all).
    *by contrast the US has 3,400 modern fighter in operation, with a huge technological, training and support advantage. So lets keep this in mind when people talk about “cuts”.

     The Queen Elizabeth class carrier is a harrier carrier, not an all-up high-performance aircraft carrier. Comparing it to a Nimitz class carrier is like claiming a Ruger 10-22 is equivalent to an M-16, because they both fire a bullet of approximately .22 caliber.

    • #139
  20. Carey J. Inactive
    Carey J.
    @CareyJ

    AIG:
    &blockquote cite=”comment-1043966″>Mark Wilson: t’s why we agreed to ban land-based MIRVs I believe we’re the only ones who did that, not Russia. Very smart move on our part. Very smart.
    PPS: To add to my comment above, US nuclear weapons, apparently, are still available for use by Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Turkey (not Denmark, I was wrong on that). I.e, by their aircraft, but under NATO command. So this is, in a way, already practiced in Europe.

     It depends on who has the codes to arm the warheads.

    • #140
  21. Carey J. Inactive
    Carey J.
    @CareyJ

    Zafar:

    Manfred Arcane:

    This is cotton candy thinking. How do you know how the Russians and Putin think?
     

    Well neither of us knows, Manfred.
    Hence the question – what’s the benefit to Russia from invading Poland?
    I don’t see any benefit to them from that – but I do see more benefit than loss to them from invading/absorbing/retaking Crimea. (Western sanctions don’t seem crippling, and I suspect they won’t be maintained by Europe anyway.)
    Which is why I put down some caveats. (Russophile/russophone areas; and so long as the Russian sphere of influence isn’t impinged on to a degree that makes them uncomfortable – the equivalent of the Munro doctrine. So Belarus joining NATO would probably be a trigger, for eg.)
    If you think that they are likely to invade Central Europe (again), tell me why.
    What material benefit did they gain last time that re-invasion would grant them again? Would the cost be greater or less this time? Can they get a similar benefit while paying less?

     Putin has long lamented the demise of the Soviet Empire. He wants to restore it. 

    • #141
  22. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    James Of England:

    Do you imagine that the Iranians would demand that the US ceased broadcasting radio signals on penalty of a nuclear attack? In what way would the nukes be valuable in your proposed scenario?

     
    It would stop a military attack on Iran (or an invasion, as happened in Iraq), for fear of what they would do in extremis when the regime felt it had nothing to lose.

    Re radio stuff – I don’t know whether US based radio programs are perceived as a major threat by the dictators of the world.  Do you think they’ve been particularly effective in winning hearts and minds that weren’t already won?

    On a segue – it’s interesting how much one tends to reach for facts that justify one’s own world view.  I see Mossadegh’s removal and the (re)imposition of the Pahlavis as a response to the nationalisation of Iran’s oil fields and in the context of the ongoing attempt to control profits from them.  You may see it differently, and in a different context, and have the facts to support your pov.  It’s challenging.

    • #142
  23. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Zafar:

    James Of England:

    It would stop a military attack on Iran (or an invasion, as happened in Iraq), for fear of what they would do in extremis when the regime felt it had nothing to lose.
    Re radio stuff – I don’t know whether US based radio programs are perceived as a major threat by the dictators of the world. Do you think they’ve been particularly effective….?

    I think that you can’t say that propaganda and opposition training are unimportant and then claim that 1953 was about America, when all America did was train and fund some of the opposition and belch forth propaganda. CIA haters and CIA aggrandizers make the tiny CIA Iranian budget seem  much more important than it was.
    A US invasion of Iran is obviously impossible, and a Russian invasion hard to imagine (eg. why?) and absent nukes, what would be the motivation?

    Zafar:I see Mossadegh’s removal and the (re)imposition of the Pahlavis as a response to the nationalisation

     I think that’s partly true, but overly anglocentric.  Mossadegh’s coup and massive, protracted, mob violence destablized and impoverished Iran, and the CIA enhanced protests grew from that, not nationalization.

    • #143
  24. Douglas Inactive
    Douglas
    @Douglas

    Carey J.:

     

    Putin has long lamented the demise of the Soviet Empire. He wants to restore it.

     I keep hearing this, and I just don’t buy it. I think Putin wants to restore the prestige and power of Russia when they were the big dog in the Soviet Union, and I definitely think that he wants a renewed buffer of Russian-friendly governments between Russia-proper (which will soon almost certainly include most of Ukraine and Belarus) and NATO, as he sees NATO as basically nothing but American lapdogs, and Russia IS paranoia (with good reason) . But you’re simply not going to see Russian tanks in Poland or Prague, let alone poised on the Fulda Gap again. Some of this I have to chalk up to a strange kind of Cold War nostalgia on the part of American Hawks.

    • #144
  25. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Carey J.: Putin has long lamented the demise of the Soviet Empire. He wants to restore it.

    I think his nostalgia goes further back than that, to the time of the Czars.

    The Soviet Union wanted to take over the whole world. I’m not convinced that’s Putin’s desire.

    In contrast, the Czars wanted to create a new Rome. I can totally imagine Putin reinventing himself as Caesar.

    He wants a geographic Russian empire, not global ideological domination.

    IMHO, of course. It’s not like I know the man personally.

    • #145
  26. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Douglas: But you’re simply not going to see Russian tanks in Poland or Prague, let alone poised on the Fulda Gap again.

     <devil’s advocate mode = on>

    According to one of his former advisors, Putin’s ambitions for territorial expansion may be greater than you think. This guy says Putin is even eying Finland.

    Is this guy right, or is he a nut?  Who knows.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/03/30/vladimir-putin-conquer-finland-_n_5058483.html
    <devil’s advocate mode = off>

    • #146
  27. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    James Of England:

    I think that you can’t say that propaganda and opposition training are unimportant and then claim that 1953 was about America, when all America did was train and fund some of the opposition and belch forth propaganda. CIA haters and CIA aggrandizers make the tiny CIA Iranian budget seem much more important than it was.

    Arguable – though funding riots and funnelling bribes to armed groups (black ops? covert ops?) is not the same are just running a radio station.   I would agree that Iran has been a divided society for some time – and divided societies are always easier to subvert and control – but the long term limitations of that approach should be apparent from outcomes in Iran itself.  There’s no way that Khomeini would have gotten the support he did, even from not very religious Iranians, if the alternative (a corrupt Shah widely seen as a puppet) hadn’t been so propped up come hell or high water or Savak burning people to death in

    cinemas.  Khomeini was TINA.

    A US invasion of Iran is obviously impossible, and a Russian invasion hard to imagine (eg. why?) and absent nukes, what would be the motivation?

    But US funded regime change (as was done before) less so.  That’s what’s got them freaked.

    If Russia wanted to get right in our faces getting a warm water port on the Persian Gulf, right by the Straits of Hormuz, would be a good way to do it.  I agree that it’s unlikely – but if it happened it would be about the US, not about Iran.

    Zafar:I see Mossadegh’s removal and the (re)imposition of the Pahlavis as a response to the nationalisation

    I think that’s partly true, but overly anglocentric. Mossadegh’s coup and massive, protracted, mob violence destablized and impoverished Iran, and the CIA enhanced protests grew from that, not nationalization.

    I don’t know that you can separate Iranian poverty and social dissatisfaction with the bad deal the country was perceived to be getting for its oil.  If it wasn’t a great deal for the buyers why would anybody bother to overthrow a Government in order to keep something close to it?

    • #147
  28. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Misthiocracy:

    Carey J.: Putin has long lamented the demise of the Soviet Empire. He wants to restore it.

    I think his nostalgia goes further back than that, to the time of the Czars.
    The Soviet Union wanted to take over the whole world. I’m not convinced that’s Putin’s desire.
    In contrast, the Czars wanted to create a new Rome. I can totally imagine Putin reinventing himself as Caesar.
    He wants a geographic Russian empire, not global ideological domination.
    IMHO, of course. It’s not like I know the man personally.
     

    Well, in the realm of speculation, I think you’re right about a Russian Empire being a more sympatico goal for Putin than the Soviet Union.  Isn’t the Government’s relationship with the Russian Orthodox Church and traditional Russian culture more similar to the Romanovs’ than the Communist Party’s?

    Wrt the Empire – isn’t it more beneficial for Russia to be surrounded by client state run by dependent strongmen than to actually try and (re)absorb countries like Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan etc?  Even in Eastern Europe – how much would it cost to absorb Ukraine and Belarus, how much would it cost to keep them notionally independent but on side?

    • #148
  29. user_313423 Inactive
    user_313423
    @StephenBishop

    An interesting video from the Bruges Group.

    Someone Had Blunder’d – The EU and Ukraine

    • #149
  30. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Zafar:

    Arguable – though funding riots and funnelling bribes to armed groups (black ops? covert ops?) is not the same are just running a radio station. I would agree that Iran has been a divided society for some time – and divided societies are always easier to subvert and control – but the long term limitations of that approach should be apparent from outcomes in Iran itself. There’s no way that Khomeini would have gotten the support he did, even from not very religious Iranians, if the alternative (a corrupt Shah widely seen as a puppet) hadn’t been so propped up come hell or high water or Savak burning people to death in cinemas. Khomeini was TINA.

    The US is funding and training opposition groups today, and didn’t do much of it before. The eventual collapse of the liberal regime does not demonstrate that support could not succeed. Similar efforts were successful in Chile, Egypt, South Korea, and elsewhere. The Russian efforts were more civilized in most countries, but this was because most of what went on in Iran was about Iran, and no reliable principle said that the Shah would fall, while other leaders would succeed.

    • #150
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