You Ask, I Respond

So commenter “Sonic Chamber” takes me to task on my criticism of bellicose rhetoric aimed at the Russians and some assertions I made about U.S.-Russia relations more generally. In the spirit of encouraging participation, I’ll answer Sonic Chamber’s questions/grunts of disagreement.

You’re right, it is in a “manner consistent with history in the Caucuses”. That makes it…ok?

And as for Russia’s crucial role in stemming nuclear proliferation.

No they won’t

In a vacuum, no, Russian aggression — even if framed in a long history of conflict — is not OK. The question of course is, what can we actually do about it? The reality of the situation is essentially nothing. We can’t, and won’t go to war with Russia. What’s more, other sanctions like kicking Russia out of the G8 would allow U.S.-Russia relations to further devolve.

Though “Sonic Chamber” disagrees with the role Russia will play in halting Iran’s nuclear aspirations, the fact remains that Russia is really the only other massively nuclear power in the world. As such, their cooperation in any sort of non-proliferation agreement is essential, a fact that even the Bush administration recognized as recently as April. Attempting to move forward without Russian cooperation on this front would be tantamount to creating an anti-flopping accord in the NBA without the cooperation of Manu Gnobli.

Now, that answers the first two questions/grunts of disagreement, and I’ll attempt to answer the last question.

You’re right. If Russia is “pissed off” at the thought of Poland defending herself, we should bow to that. After all, Russia has the right to attack Poland. What gives Poland the right to try to prevent Russia from attacking Poland?

I suppose there would be some truth to this if the missiles Poland will now house were actually Polish. But they’re not, they’re American, and the assertion that their stated purpose is to protect Europe from Iranian missile launches is almost laughable. Rather, as is highlighted by the timing of the agreement, the missiles are essentially a U.S. response to Russian muscling around in the Caucuses. As I stated earlier however, there really isn’t much to be gained by doing this, and in fact, there is much to loose. Remember, historically contextualizing Russia’s aggression in the Caucuses provides vital perspective: this conflict stems from long standing ethnic divisions, provocations, a history of violence, and contested political authority. None of these factors apply to Poland, and the belief that Russia would invade Poland is simply daft. What’s more, Poland is already a member of NATO, and as such, already enjoys a great degree of protection from Russian threats.

Lastly, I suppose “Sonic Chamber” may have meant that Russia won’t play a role in stemming nuclear proliferation because “Sonic Chamber” believes invading or bombing Iran would be a better solution. Aside from the fact that bombing Iran would likely only delay any nuclear program and likely only give Iran more incentive to pursue nuclear armament, this would further weaken international institutions whose cooperation in ending worldwide nuclear proliferation is crucial. Invading Iran would be eve more misguided in light of the fact that when troops will be withdrawn from Iraq in 2011, it will have taken 9 years and dollar figures in the trillions to stabilize a weaker country while driving off allies and allowing al-Qaeda to regroup and grow in a nuclear armed country.

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One Response to “You Ask, I Respond”

  1. Sonic Charmer Says:

    I suppose there would be some truth to this if the missiles Poland will now house were actually Polish. But they’re not, they’re American, and the assertion that their stated purpose is to protect Europe from Iranian missile launches is almost laughable.

    I’m not talking about the ‘stated purpose’. I’m just talking about whether Poland has the right to defend herself or Russia has the right to prevent Poland from defending herself. Let’s say you’re right that the missiles’ purpose isn’t to defend themselves ‘from Iran’ but rather from Russia.

    How does that change the calculus exactly? Does Poland have any less right to defend herself from Russia than from Iran? Again: Does Russia have an intrinsic right to attack Poland? If so, why? If not, what then is the basis for paying tribute to Russia’s gripes about the issue?

    None of these factors apply to Poland, and the belief that Russia would invade Poland is simply daft.

    Okay, great! Then why exactly is Russia “pissed off”? After all, according to you, 1. the missile defense is ineffectual and 2. Russia has no plans or intent to attack Poland anyway. So from Russia’s POV we are just stupidly wasting money. Why does this make them “pissed off”? and if they are, why should their being so irrationally “pissed off” for no good reason be dispositive of anything?

    Lastly, I suppose “Sonic Chamber” may have meant that Russia won’t play a role in stemming nuclear proliferation because “Sonic Chamber” believes invading or bombing Iran would be a better solution.

    No, I said exactly what I meant, which is that Russia won’t play a role in stemming nuclear proliferation from Iran.

    They may of course try to get mileage/gain out of a geopolitical protection racket based on playing the ‘good cop’ to Iran’s ‘bad cop’, but I don’t consider that the same thing.

    Thanks for the considered reply,


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