Saturday 28 May 2022

Munk debate on invasion of Ukraine

"Be it resolved, ending the world's worst geopolitical crisis in a generation starts with acknowledging Russia's security interests."

An interesting match, pitting Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt against Radoslaw Sikorski (former Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs) and Michael McFaul (former US ambassador to Ukraine). 

It starts out with Radoslaw acknowledging that, in Poland (as in Russia and China), Mearsheimer is seen as the master of realpolitik theory. 

Mearsheimer predicted the war in Ukraine, and back in the 1990s advised the Ukrainians not to give up their nuclear arsenal. Mind you, even I would have given them that advice. Ukraine isn't in the most stable neighbourhood.

The two sides were often talking past each other, ignoring inconvenient questions. 

Mearsheimer made the claim, for example, that the US orchestrated a coup in Ukraine in 2014 (he makes the same assertion in Great Delusions, but is light on the details), which McFaul strenuously denies (of course he does). McFaul demands proof, which Mearsheimer does not offer.

I'd like to know what Mearsheimer knows, if he knows, if you know what I mean.

A disturbing point is made that Russian military doctrine is to escalate until victory. Nuclear weapons are seen as just another weapon, and if Putin feels like he is losing in Ukraine, he'll use them. Such a loss would be an existential threat to him, and thus Russia (as an extension of the Czar). 

That’s probably the biggest fear: that World War III has already started, we just don’t know it yet. 

McFaul, former US ambassador to Russia, frequently lets passion undermine his position. 

Been there, done that. 

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