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Sunday, March 2, 2014

UKRAINE

Speaking as a complete novice on all matters Russian and Eastern European, I find the events in Ukraine very troubling indeed.  It looks to me very much as though Putin is embarked on an effort to reconstitute as much of the Soviet Union as he can.  It is clearly not in our national interest to launch a war to stop him, and there seems not to be any other forced that could pose an obstacle to the effort.  Will he move on Belarus?  Does he have his eye on Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan?  I think it very unlikely he will make a move against Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.

The United States has an airbase in Kyrgyzstan which must close in July of this year, and the Air Force is talking about moving it to Kazakhstan, at least for as long as it is needed to support military operations in Afghanistan.  I would guess Putin will be patient enough to wait until we pull out of Central Asia.

Russia's imperial expansion has always been limited to areas contiguous with its central territory, in much the same way as that of China, making it extremely difficult to challenge geopolitically.  [Contrast that with the imperial expansions of France, Great Britain, Germany, Holland, Spain, Italy, and the United States, or with ancient Rome and Athens, for that matter.]

I suspect economic sanctions, which could be quite costly for Russia, will have not the slightest impact on any imperial aspirations Putin may have.

This is serious business, folks, but despite the inevitable tough talk from neo-cons and attacks on Obama as a gutless wimp, my guess is that no one is actually going to make a serious effort to take America into a ground war with Russia.  There is very little for us to do save wait and see how it plays out in Eastern Europe.

14 comments:

David Auerbach said...

Isn't it a historical law that Crimea has to be in the news every 150 years or so? (Yalta doesn't count.)

imcdpe said...

According to BBC news, Kerry was on record as follows: "You just don't in the 21st-Century behave in 19th-Century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped-up pretext". I am astonished he managed to keep a straight face.

DANIEL said...

Prof Wolff,
On a completely different note. I was reading Samuel Freeman's book Rawls, and I was surprised that your important work Understanding Rawls wasn't referenced at all.

Is there a reason for this? A history? I gone through your work and it seems that your critiques are central to understanding Rawls' overall scheme/purpose.
thanks!
Daniel

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Daniel, I haven't a clue. It was the first book published about Rawls, and IMHO [which my sons tell me is webspeak for "in my humble opinion"] it is a rather clear explication and a powerful critique. I sent Jack Rawls the first copy [we knew one another] and he never said a word about it. Maybe history has decided that it is beneath notice. Who knows?

Robert Paul Wolff said...

I saw that, IMCDPE. Kerry voted for the war in Iraq, by the way.

levinebar said...

this may prod belarus, kazakhstan, tajikistan, uzbekistan to welcome American military bases just to deter Russian re-expansion.

levinebar said...

this may prod belarus, kazakhstan, tajikistan, uzbekistan to welcome American military bases just to deter Russian re-expansion.

levinebar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J. W. F. said...

Daniel,

RPW's Understanding Rawls is listed in the bibliography to the Freeman book, under the section titled Rawls, Marx, and Left Criticism, p. 533.

DANIEL said...

J. W. F.,
Thanks! I missed that.

It is interesting that Rawls never said a word to RPW about his book.

I've used this book a lot in trying to come to terms with Rawls. Thanks for writing it!

J. W. F. said...

Understanding Rawls certainly has one of the greatest throwaway lines of all time:

"Nothing in the notion of Pareto optimality, or in the formalism of an indifference map, requires us to distinguish between the ongoing distribution of goods and services produced in the daily reproduction of social life, and the parceling out of free gifts miraculously come upon. Welfare economics, we might say, is the pure theory of the cargo cult." p. 207

Robert Paul Wolff said...

I had forgotten that I wrote that.

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